LAHORE: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan on Thursday made a fresh bid to woo the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s maverick leader Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and invited him to join his party so that they could work together to build a ‘new Pakistan.’

Mr Khan extended the invitation to the PML-N dissident while speaking at a ceremony to launch the PTI’s logo and slogan for the upcoming general elections.

At a time when Mr Khan was praising Chaudhry Nisar for “courageously” challenging Maryam Nawaz, the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif was busy persuading Chaudhry Nisar in a one-on-one meeting in Islamabad. Sources said it was the fourth meeting between Mr Sharif and Chaudhry Nisar during the last 10 days.

Lauding his old friend, Imran Khan said Chaudhry Nisar had taken a principled stand that he would not bow and take orders from Maryam Nawaz, who held no authority in the party. For his courageous and unwavering stance, the PTI chief said, “I wish to invite Chaudhry Nisar to join the PTI”.

PPP leader Nadeem Afzal Chan is only formal announcement away from joining Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf

The main objective of the visit of the cricketer-turned-politician to Lahore was to step up mobilisation of the party workers for the much-trumpeted April 29 public meeting at Minar-i-Pakistan.

Mr Khan unveiled the party’s new logo and tag line ‘Do Nahi Aik Pakistan – Hum Sub Ka Naya Pakistan”, urging the party leaders and workers to focus on the “decisive” Minar-i-Pakistan public meeting and make it a success to lead into next general elections unhindered.

Explaining the party’s new slogan, Mr Khan stated there always remained two Pakistans – one for the rich and powerful and the other for the poor and weak.

Stating that the PTI was on a mission to eradicate corruption from society, Mr Khan said he had taken a strong decision of suspending 20 lawmakers of his party, who had allegedly sold their votes in the last month’s Senate election.

“It is for the first time in the history of Pakistan that a political party stood to its stance even at the cost of putting its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in danger,” he said, adding: “I don’t care about any no-confidence move against (KP chief minister) Pervez Khattak.”

The PTI chief challenged Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to name and shame corrupt politicians in his party.

For the first time, he said, the country’s courts had taken the most powerful to task. “In the past, only the poor and weak were sent to jail, while the rich and mighty landed in assemblies and became ministers, prime minister and presidents,” he regretted.

“It was all happening because Pakistan’s justice system was not tuned to nab the corrupt,” he observed.

Urging the party leaders and workers to mobilise the people of Lahore through floats, camps, small public gatherings, torch-bearing processions, media talks and every other mean, he said the successful show on April 29 would tell that people were not standing with Nawaz Sharif but with the ruthless justice system in the country.

Earlier, the PTI chief arrived in Lahore after having a meeting with former PPP MNA Nadeem Afzal Chan at his Banigala residence in Islamabad.

Mr Chan invited the PTI chief to visit his native village in Mandi Bahauddin district on April 25 where he would make a formal announcement to join the PTI.

Mr Chan’s brother and former MPA Waseem Afzal Chan and his uncle and former minister in the PPP government Nazar Mohammad Gondal have already joined the PTI.

The reports were already circulating in the media about Mr Chan’s decision to join the PTI for the past almost a year, but he kept on denying such reports. PTI information secretary Fawad Chaudhry confirmed that the party had been in contact with Mr Chan for a long time.

“Mr Chan took a long time to make the decision, because it is always difficult for a committed political figure to quit a party,” he said.

Amir Wasim from Islamabad also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2018

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