LAHORE: A group of politicians — mostly belonging to south Punjab and led by Jahangir Khan Tareen — on Monday mulled a proposition floated by the powers that be to set up a ‘parallel’ Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf to contain ousted prime minister Imran Khan’s party ahead of the next elections.

The Tareen group held a huddle in which disgruntled MNAs and former Punjab MPAs, who were disqualified after voting for the PML-N candidate in the chief minister’s election last year, participated.

“The Tareen group has been given a go-ahead to focus on breaking the PTI, especially in the light of the possible disqualification of Imran Khan in any of the cases pending against him. And this meeting was primarily convened to discuss this,” a source privy to developments told Dawn.

He said that a dissident faction of the PTI, named ‘Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Nazriati’, was already registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and it was likely that the Tareen group might use this platform to get the job done.

Insider says breakaway elements could be accommodated in ECP-registered ‘PTI Nazriati’

As per the ECP website, Sheikhupura-based Akhtar Iqbal Dar is the chairman of PTI Nazriati.

“A recent meeting between Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani and Jahangir Tareen should also be seen in this context,” he said, adding that the discussion pertained to the “future of the PTI after its chair­man’s disqualification”, which the participants of the meeting thought to be “imminent”.

“A parallel platform would have all the support of the powers that be to dent the PTI,” the source said.

Opposition Leader in National Assembly Raja Riaz, PM’s aide Aun Chaudhry, Nauman Langrial, Ajmal Cheema, and Ishaq Khaq­wani were among the participants of the meeting. Aun Chaudhry and Ajmal Cheema did not respond to Dawn’s queries in this regard.

“The participants agreed to hold such meetings to shape up their strategy in accordance with the changing political situation. They also decided to establish contacts with the PTI leaders who are critical of Imran Khan, but have not gone public with their reservations,” the source said.

‘PML-N fully on board’

Although the Sharifs had refused to allot tickets to these ‘electables’ for the next general elections, the Tareen group would have the complete support of the PML-N in its ‘new assignment,’ the source said.

Similarly, the PPP which has been wooing the south Punjab electables for quite some time has not given up its efforts as it considered them a ‘valuable asset’ in light of the elections.

“PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari is banking heavily on south Punjab in the coming polls,” a senior PPP leader from the region told Dawn on Monday. Former president Asif Ali Zardari has reportedly been in contact with the Tareen group members to woo them with the alleged help of the military establishment.

Published in Dawn, March 28th, 2023

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