LAHORE: With more than 70 leaders and former lawmakers parting ways with the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) since May 9, the Jahangir Khan Tareen (JKT) group has stepped up efforts to poach as many deserters as it can to swell its ranks ahead of general elections.
On Monday, Mr Tareen held a meeting with former PTI leader Aleem Khan at his residence in the provincial capital. The meeting was also attended by former minister Ishaq Khakwani, PM’s aide Aown Chaudhry, Saeed Akbar Niwani, and Shoaib Siddiqui.
Though there has been no word from the Tareen group regarding their re-entry to the political arena, reports suggest that the former PTI leader and financier would re-launch his political career with a new political party. Even before May 9, the idea of a ‘parallel PTI’ had been in the works.
Aown Chaudhry and Ishaq Khaqwani did not respond to Dawn’s queries regarding the group’s plans to form a new political party, but a source claimed that there was a race between Mr Tareen and Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain of PML-Q to woo the maximum number of former PTI members.
“Tareen, in light of his lifetime ban, is keen to get a clean chit from the apex court to lead the new political entity, while Aleem will have to seek blessings of the establishment and PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif to fulfil his dream of becoming the Punjab chief minister,” according to the insider.
It is pertinent to mention that PTI chief Imran Khan had claimed that former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa wanted Aleem Khan as the chief minister of Punjab, but he (Mr Khan) had refused to make him the chief executive of the province.
Over 70 PTI leaders and former lawmakers, including Fawad Chaudhry, Shireen Mazari, Aamir Kiyani, Imran Ismail, Ali Zaidi, Abrarul Haq, Amin Aslam, Maleeka Bokhari, Musarrat and Jamshed Cheema, have quit the PTI in light of the May 9 riots, with a significant number hailing from south Punjab.
“Since a major portion of the JKT group belongs to the southern part of the province, it is likely that the PTI deserters from this area may choose to side with Tareen,” he said, adding that Mr Tareen, however, was not putting in as much energy this time around, as he did when he was with the PTI.
“Tareen really worked hard for 10 years for the PTI but in the end, he was discarded by [Imran] Khan under the influence of his wife (Bushra Bibi) that is why he is going rather easy this time around,” the source claimed.
An ex-PTI leader told Dawn that most party leaders leaving Mr Khan in the wake of the May 9 incidents could not go into the PML-N because they remained “strong adversaries of the Sharifs” so now they are left with three options i.e. PPP, PML-Q or the JKT group.
Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2023