Political parties see Imran’s decision as surrender

Published November 2, 2016
PTI leader Imran Khan (C) gestures as he addresses supporters outside his residence in Islamabad on November 1, 2016.-- AFP
PTI leader Imran Khan (C) gestures as he addresses supporters outside his residence in Islamabad on November 1, 2016.-- AFP

KARACHI: With one leader calling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan a “defeated captain” and another likening him to the general who surrendered in East Pakistan in 1971, major political parties saw the former cricketer’s decision to withdraw his Islamabad “lockdown” plan as a complete surrender.

Even the three allies of Mr Khan — Dr Tahirul Qadri, Shaikh Rashid of the Awami Muslim League and Pervaiz Elahi of the PML-Q — were not so happy with the PTI chief’s unilateral decision to turn his protest call into a Yaum-i-Tashakkur, to be observed on Wednesday in Islamabad.

While the Awami National Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement gave a somewhat balanced reaction to the PTI chief’s decision, leaders of the PPP and PML-N did not miss a chance to take a swipe at the cricketer-turned-politician.

“One more Niazi surrendered in November,” said senior PPP leader Senator Saeed Ghani in a thinly veiled reference to the surrender by Gen A.K. Niazi in East Pakistan in December 1971.

In a statement issued in Karachi, he said that workers of the PTI faced state oppression but Mr Khan did not come outside his hilltop residence in Islamabad.

In a clear reference to the PTI chief, Aseefa Bhutto-Zardari tweeted “U-turn Khan”.

Another strong criticism against Mr Khan came from a former associate.

Veteran politician Javed Hashmi, who parted ways with the PTI in 2014, told reporters in Multan that instead of celebrating a day of thanks Mr Khan should observe “a day of humiliation”.

He said that politics needed workers and not players and the PTI chief could not spend one day in prison.

Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Syed Khurshid Shah of the PPP also heaped scorn at the PTI chief, saying he had already informed the nation that “Imran Khan is the biggest supporter of Nawaz Sharif”.

He was of the view that the unsuccessful protest demonstrations of Mr Khan were only benefitting the prime minister.

Federal Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique termed Mr Khan a defeated captain and said that in the 2014 sit-in he came to take “our resignations” but ended up with resignations from his own side.

A senior aide to the PM, Asif Kir­mani, said that Mr Khan would observe a “day of retreat” and Shaikh Rashid, whom he called Lal Haveli Wala, would observe a “day of humiliation”.

Even Mr Khan’s ally Dr Qadri expressed surprise over his decision.

“Right now I am not in a position to comment,” he told a private news channel. “I am shocked and I have no words.”

He said that it was the PTI’s right to celebrate a day of thanks, but his party would not participate in it as Mr Khan did not consult him before calling off his protest. “He [Imran Khan] took all decisions by himself without taking me into confidence,” he added.

PML -Q leader and former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi refrained from making a comment on Mr Khan’s day of thanks instead of locking down Islamabad.

“It is PTI’s own decision to call off their tomorrow’s protest,” he added.

ANP chief Asfandyar Wali advised both PML-N and the PTI to resolve all issues with patience, saying the politics of levelling allegations would do no good.

The Dr Farooq Sattar-led MQM-Pakistan welcomed the PTI chief’s announcement of calling off the “lockdown” of Islamabad and advised him and the government to take decisions in the larger interest of the country and democracy.

The party also praised the apex court whose timely decision forced Mr Khan to take the path of reconciliation.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2016

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