LAHORE: The Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP) — the new home of most PTI deserters — was formally launched on Thursday with the objective to “give a new direction to politics and take the country forward with a strong economy”.
After weeks of consultations, the sugar baron and once the trusted lieutenant of Imran Khan, Jahangir Khan Tareen, in the presence of dozens of PTI deserters, finally announced the name of the new party during a press conference at a local hotel in the provincial capital.
The IPP is being dubbed as a ‘king’s party’, which is all set to establish itself on the political landscape, especially in Punjab as most of its big guns are from the same province. Since the IPP under Mr Tareen has an ‘excellent’ relationship with the ruling PML-N leadership, the ex-PTI leader could not explain which party would be its rival in the province.
Mr Tareen has been named the patron of the IPP, while no other party positions were announced. Similarly, the manifesto of the party would be released later as well. It was declared in the presser that the IPP would be a “symbol of progress”.
Former PTI leader lays foundation of ‘Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party’, explains what went wrong with PTI
On the stage, Mr Tareen was accompanied by former Sindh governor Imran Ismail, former PTI financer Aleem Khan, former Azad Kashmir prime minister Tanvir Ilays, former ministers Amir Kiani, Ali Zaidi, and Fayyazul Hassan Chohan, Firdous Ashiq Awan, Saeed Akbar Nawani and Nauman Langrial.
Former federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry who was spotted in the back row deliberately chose not to sit on the stage. His “uneasy body language” gave way to speculations about his decision to join the IPP presumably “under pressure”.
He also avoided the journalists who surrounded him and sought his comments over his transition to the new party.
‘For constructive politics’
It was a brief presser in which only Mr Tareen and Aleem Khan spoke while refusing to take any questions. On journalists’ insistence to respond to some of the queries, Mr Tareen asked them to wait for the next presser.
Mr Tareen’s talk revolved around what went wrong with the PTI and why he and a number of other former PTI leaders joined hands to launch a “new platform for fresh political struggle”.
He was categorical that May 9 protests changed the political landscape of Pakistan.
“Today we lay the foundation of the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party. My objective is always to contribute to the country’s progress. I was not a traditional politician. I entered politics with an objective. I joined the PTI with a passion and worked hard to make it a strong party. However, things didn’t go the way they should… and people started getting disappointed. PTI couldn’t achieve its purpose,” he said.
He also sought strict action against those involved in May 9 riots. “If we do not bring the culprits of May 9 to justice then this will lead to attacks on the houses of politicians as well. Even a mob can attack anyone’s house,” he added.
Indirectly referring to the PTI chief, Mr Tareen said the style of politics during the last few years had damaged the country. “We cannot allow this to continue anymore. We want to put politics in the right direction as there is a need for leadership that gives a narrative which takes the country forward. Our politics needs a new dimension. Democracy can only be strengthened if both the government and the opposition learn their responsibilities.”
He claimed that more politicians who have a vote bank in their constituencies would join the IPP in the coming days. “I am hopeful to get better results in upcoming polls,” he said in a confident tone.
Meanwhile, Aleem Khan said after May 9, those who were inactive and indifferent to politics sat together and decided to do “constructive politics on one platform”. “Credit goes to Tareen…under his patronage, we will contribute to Pakistan’s progress.”
Firdous Ashiq Awan, in a separate talk, claimed over 100 former PTI MNAs and MPAs had joined the IPP so far. She said the party offices and manifesto would be announced soon.
Reacting to the development, Federal Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said: “The soul of PTI is gone after those who formed it left today and only the idol of arrogance remains. Imran Khan has become an example...”
Published in Dawn, June 9th, 2023