LAHORE: Imran Khan’s PTI lost another wicket, this time a former member of the National Assembly from Punjab and party’s women wing president Munazza Hassan who joined Istehkham-i-Pakistan Party (IPP) and made the decision public at a joint presser with IPP patron and former confidant of the PTI chairman, Jahangir Khan Tareen, on Friday.

About PTI’s future, Mr Tareen said: “It will be premature to say whether the PTI will be in elections or not. Certain things are being worked out in this regard and they will come to the fore very soon.”

Some senior leaders of PML-N, including former opposition leader Raja Riaz, believed PTI’s election symbol, bat, would not be on the ballot papers in upcoming elections.

Mr Tareen, during the press conference, attempted to dispel the impression that his party was ‘king’s party’.

Munazza Hassan joins Istehkham-i-Pakistan Party

“The establishment does not interfere in politics. We don’t need the support of the establishment but the people,” he said in reply to a question whether the military establishment would help the IPP win seats in polls. He, however, sounded confident regarding the polls taking place in January 2024. “Elections are indispensable for Pakistan and its economy. I am sure elections will be held and new government will remain in power for five years,” he said.

Disqualification

Responding to a question about his life-time disqualification, he said he was eligible to contest polls as he was disqualified “only for an election term of five years”.

“The limit of disqualification of [PML-N supreme leader] Nawaz Sharif and mine was that of five years which have been completed,” he asserted.

So far, he added, his party did not have any complaint against the ECP about level playing field, but the IPP wanted that it should be equal for all political players.

While the IPP has yet to be registered with the ECP despite being the new home of most PTI deserters, Mr Tareen said his party was doing homework and would contest election “with full preparations”.

Asked for reasons to part ways with Mr Khan, Mr Tareen said: “I got along with Imran Khan because he was working for Pakistan. Now my party will meet the expectations which the people had from him.”

The IPP leadership says it has an agenda to give a new direction to politics and take the country forward with a strong economy.

Since his party also has an ‘excellent relationship’ with the Sharifs, Mr Tareen has yet to explain which party will be its rival in Punjab.

Meanwhile, he asked Mr Nawaz not to target former army chief (Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa) and chief justice of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, September 23th, 2023

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