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LAHORE: Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Tahirul Qadri is set to return to Pakistan on Sunday (June 3) for overseeing his party’s preparation for the next general elections and seek alliances with the Pakistan Peoples Party and the PML-Q.

According to the party sources, the PAT is already negotiating with the PPP and the PML-Q and exploring the possibility of contesting elections on a joint election symbol in Punjab, at least.

When reminded that the PPP is retrieving its old symbol - sword - and PML-Q wants to replace bicycle with tractor, how would these parties jettison their hard-won election symbols to context on new symbol, PAT spokesman Noorullah Siddiqui claimed: “The PPP can contest on whatever symbol it wants in Sindh or any other province, but PAT is asking it to field joint candidates on a joint symbol and the PPP is listening. Similarly, the PML-Q is striving hard to gather all splinter factions of Muslim Leagues and some other religious groups, it was also talking to PAT for an umbrella alliance, covering all its sub-alliances. The talks are inching towards consensus and that is why the PAT chief is arriving.”

When asked about the possible alliance with the PTI, he said Tehreek-Insaf, of late, has grown too big, or at least it perceives itself to be, to seek alliance, even seat adjustment. So, the PAT is exploring the possibility where it seems more realistic.

About the usual thunder that has accompanied his previous such arrivals, Siddiqui denied such plans. “The PAT had two major demands: making the Justice Baqar Najfi report public and justice for Model Town massacre. The report has been made public and the court is hearing the case on a daily basis now after a suo motu. The party thus has no issue to agitate at its previous level.”

The only issue that it feels left is refining and reforming the electoral system to ensure transparent and fair elections. But it is more of a general issue, and the party and its chief, would continue to agitate it softly through talk shows and through other means. But there is nothing to protest about, he said.

About the span of the stay, Noorullah said it all depends how political situation matures in the next two months. “If alliance with other parties matures and contest becomes a single symbol affair, Tahirul Qadri would become part of the election campaign and stay till elections. If it is only seat adjustments and all parties contest on their individual symbols, the PAT chief might decide to leave early. The PAT is going to put up its own candidates on selective seats (and their details cannot be diverged at this stage) and cooperate with others on the rest of the seats,” he said.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2018