ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan, who is blamed for introducing the politics of dharna (protest sit-ins) in the country, on Monday snubbed party workers protesting outside his Banigala residence against the award of party tickets in some constituencies, telling them categorically that he would never succumb to pressure of their protests.
While the PTI chairman came out of his bungalow with former Punjab governor Chaudhry Mohammad Sarwar in an effort to placate the agitating workers and assured them that he would review the decision regarding award of party tickets within the next two to three days, he declared that they could never force him to change his mind with such protests.
“If I change my decision today under your pressure, tomorrow more people will come here. Should I again change my decision?” he asked the disgruntled workers who had come from different constituencies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
“What do you think that by bringing hundreds or thousands of more people here you can get my decision changed?” he asked.
PTI workers from Punjab, KP protest outside Banigala against ‘corrupt candidates’
“I want to say it categorically: whether you are 50 or even if 10,000 more people join you, any decision based on justice that I will make in consultation with the parliamentary board will not be changed.
“No matter how many people gather, I will not change the decision,” the PTI chief reiterated amidst slogans by the workers.
Mr Khan also expressed his anger against the protesters for carrying banners and placards. “Why (are you holding) these placards? Is there any public meeting going on?” he said.
The protesters from Multan wanted the party chief not to award the ticket to former minister and former PML-N leader Sikandar Bosan. The party has yet to officially announce giving ticket to Mr Bosan though there were reports that the party had assured him of a party ticket.
One of the PTI workers reminded Mr Khan that he used to tell them that they were corrupt leaders and they would be made an example, yet the party had awarded tickets to the ‘same corrupt’ people. The PTI chief said he had already told them to submit review petitions with their “arguments” so that the matter could be reviewed.
When the protesters were dispersing after Mr Khan’s assurance, another group of protesters from Gujrat reached the venue, chanting slogans against the party leadership’s plan to have seat adjustment with the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q).
Some of the protesters even briefly scuffled with the police and security personnel when they tried to forcefully enter the chairman’s office.
The capital administration on Monday deployed more police personnel around the hilltop residence of Mr Khan at Banigala to avoid any untoward incident.
The PTI chief again came out to give them the same assurance.
While asking them to go away so that he along with other leaders could work, Mr Khan said he was a human being and might have committed mistakes. As the protesting PTI workers did not move, Mr Khan told them that he would announce his decision on the review petitions on Tuesday.
The protesting workers announced that they would go back home only after hearing the final verdict.
Till the filing of this report in the late hours of Monday, more than 1,000 people were camping outside the PTI chief’s residence. The disgruntled PTI workers mostly belonged to Multan, Mandi Bahauddin, Rawalpindi, Gujrat, Peshawar, Dir and Swat.
Earlier amid reports of resentment within the party ranks in a large number of constituencies over the distribution of tickets, the PTI had decided last week to constitute “reconciliatory committees” to sort out differences in the run-up to the July 25 general elections.
The decision had been taken by the party leadership at a meeting of the party’s media strategy team only a day after announcing tickets for 173 National Assembly seats and 290 seats of provincial assemblies of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The decision of the PTI leadership to award tickets to a large number of electable candidates who recently joined the party after quitting their political parties has created unrest among PTI activists. There were reports of protests at some other places as well against the leadership over the issue of award of party tickets.
Talking to Dawn, PTI Information Secretary Fawad Chaudhry said the party had received nearly 100 complaints against the award of tickets. He expressed the hope that his party would amicably resolve the issue and all the workers would take part in the election campaign with full dedication.
Responding to a question, Mr Chaudhry ruled out the possibility of leaving the field open for former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan. He said the PTI had already fielded party’s vice president Ghulam Sarwar Khan against him in three of the four constituencies he was contesting. Mr Khan had invited Mr Nisar to join the PTI on a number of occasions but he never responded to his invitation.
Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2018