Jahangir Khan Tareen, once a close aide of the PTI chief, on Thursday launched a new party, the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP).
The former PTI leader made the announcement during a press conference in Lahore with several other PTI defectors — including those who left in the aftermath of the May 9 incidents — by his side.
He was flanked by another one-time confidant of the PTI chief, Aleem Khan, and several others, including Imran Ismail, Ali Zaidi, Fayyazul Hasan Chohan and Amir Mehmood Kayani, who recently severed ties with PTI amid a state crackdown on it.
Tareen said on the occasion that the country was going through “delicate times”.
Elaborating on the need to form a new party, he said he had joined politics for just one purpose — to contribute to the country’s progress.
“During my long journey in politics, I got the opportunity to meet and work with several people. I learned a lot from this experience,” he said, adding that he was never a “traditional politician”.
He said he had joined the PTI as he was certain that through the party’s platform, “we will be able to implement all those reforms that Pakistan needed and still need”.
“And for this reason, we worked day and night to make the PTI a full-fledged political force. People you see sitting here today, all of them were a part of this struggle,” he added. “We infused the party with newfound passion and enthusiasm after the 2013 elections.”
Tareen said “several facts” would surface in the coming days which would show “to what extent we went to make the party stable”.
“We ensured that PTI turns into such a political force that it does not just win whenever elections are held but it also is in a position to initiate reforms in the country,” he said.
Tareen said reforms were the PTI’s basic manifesto, “due to which we all had come together”.
But, he added, “unfortunately … the matters did not go the way we expected and people were disheartened”.
He said the PTI’s manifesto was to improve the economy and relations with other countries and most importantly, ensure accountability.
“These were the slogans on the basis of which the party was formed and people voted for the PTI,” he said, regretting that these objectives could not be achieved.
Tareen said the events of May 9 had changed the politics of Pakistan.
“I am saying this from the bottom of my heart that if the miscreants and planners of May 9 are not brought to justice, attacks on houses of political rivals will also be considered acceptable.
“And we will never let this happen,” he vowed.
Tareen said May 9 vandalism was not just about a “mob attacking public properties. “This was setting an example of a mob attacking anyone’s house and harassing our families.”
No society could allow this, he asserted. “We cannot let this situation escalate further.”
He added, “So we have gathered here today. We will collectively try to steer Pakistan … out of the quagmire. Our country needs this today. We will together heal the wounds inflicted on Pakistan.”
Tareen said Pakistan presently needed a leadership that would end political and social divisions and promote unity and tolerance.
This country “needs a leadership that can give this nation a narrative of hope”.
“At this time, what our nation needs the most is the hope that its situation will improve and it will reach a new height,” he said, adding that this was the reason the foundation of the new IPP party was being laid down today. “Our objective is very clear.”
He said all those present alongside him wanted Pakistan to progress.
“We all realise, and agree, that our politics need a new direction. We also realise that our democratic system can only strengthen if the government and opposition both understand and abide by their constitutional responsibilities.”
He said more people would join the IPP in the coming days, “those who are respected in their constituencies”.
Tareen also announced that his party’s “reforms agenda” would be revealed in the coming days. “We will try that through our voters’ mandate, we introduce political, social and economic reforms.”
Outlining his party’s objectives, he said they aimed to increase exports, improve the IT sector and strengthen the farmers.
“The purpose of this party is to represent the aspirations of the youth. We will also protect the rights of women and minorities … and become voice of the voiceless,” he vowed.
Prior to him, Aleem Khan said the need was felt after May 9 for those who had distanced themselves from politics to come together and it was then decided to form a new party.
He credited Tareen, who he said would lead the IPP, for bringing them together on one platform.
Khan also mentioned that they aimed to turn Pakistan into a country in which the people, Parliament, judiciary and establishment were on one page.
After the press conference, videos and photos of another former PTI leader, Fawad Chaudhry, said to be from the IPP’s launching ceremony. began circulating on social media.
It seemed in the videos that Fawad was trying to hide his face.
The footage was played on Geo News show ‘Capital Talk’ with anchorperson Hamid Mir asking IPP’s Awn Chaudhry why Fawad was hiding his face.
To that, Awn replied, “He will not hide his face and will soon come forward. He will clarify whether he was hiding his face. He will share his views.”
May 9 and Lahore huddle
Reports emerged of Tareen gathering PTI deserters on one platform and forming a new party soon after May 9, when former prime minister Imran Khan’s arrest at the Islamabad High Court sparked countrywide protests.
The PTI chief was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau with the help of the paramilitary Rangers in the Al Qadir Trust case.
While the protests were afoot during his detention, public and private properties, including military installations were vandalised.
Since then, several PTI leaders have been arrested and re-arrested amid a crackdown on the party on allegations of planning, perpetrating and committing vandalism.
Many among them announced parting ways with the party soon after their release and, according to a Dawn report, several of them joined hands with Tareen yesterday.
At a huddle in Lahore, former PTI stalwarts Fawad Chaudhry, Amir Kiyani, Ali Zaidi, Imran Ismail, Mahmood Maulvi, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Ajmal Wazir, Nauraiz Shakoor and Fayyazul Hasan Chohan embraced their ‘new boss’ with smile on their faces, the report said.
It also highlighted that some of them had announced a ‘temporary break’ from politics while quitting the PTI in the wake of May 9 incidents. However, their break lasted only a couple of weeks before they formally entered the new political camp.
Moreover, former Punjab minister Murad Raas, who had formed the ‘Democrats’ group in league with another ex-minister Hashim Dogar a few days ago claiming the support of nearly three dozen ex-lawmakers, also decided to side with Tareen on the promise of getting a good position in the new party the latter is going to launch shortly, the report said.
Meanwhile, Aleem Khan has reportedly set his sights on the president’s slot in the IPP while Tareen may be called ‘Quaid’ of the new party till he gets relief from the court regarding his lifetime disqualification from holding a public office.
The new party is expected to play an important role in Punjab politics in the next general elections as most of PTI deserters and electables belonging to south Punjab have already joined it, the report said.
‘Not the solution to Pakistan’s problems’
Reacting to the IPP’s launch, the PTI said, “Launching new parties full of people that are coming after forced divorces is not the solution to problems Pakistan faces.”
Sharing a photograph from the launching ceremony on Twitter with “rejected” stamped on it, the PTI reiterated its demand for “fresh, free and fair elections”.
“Let the people of Pakistan choose their representatives,” the party said.
Later, PTI leader Hamid Khan said on ‘Capital Talk’ that those who had left the party and formed a new one would be at loss “because they have no individual value”.