SWABI: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) hasn’t got into election mode here despite the Election Commission of Pakistan’s announcement of countrywide polls at the end of next January.
Former prime minister Imran Khan’s party, which has dominated politics in Swabi for nearly a decade, appears to be “rudderless” in the district as its local leaders are either inactive or have gone into hiding to prevent arrest over the May 9-10 riots.
There is complete silence from it about its strategy for next elections.
PTI sources told Dawn here that central leader of the party from the area and former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser had been staying in Islamabad since May, while former provincial education minister Shahram Khan Tarakai was underground and the “whereabouts” of his father and Senator, Liaquat Khan Tarakai, and uncle Mohammad Ali Tarakai were not known.
Leaders either inactive or in hiding, say activists
They added that former MPAs Aqibullah Khan and Rangaiz Khan and PTI district president Sohail Yousafzai were no longer visible.
Usman Khan Tarakai, who was elected MNA three times consecutively, has already joined the Pakistan Peoples Party.
Only Abdul Karim, former adviser to the chief minister, is active but his political activities are limited to his constituency, party sources said.
They said only the PTI had yet to launch a voter contact campaign in the district as the other political and religio-political parties were already holding workers’ conventions and corner meetings to inform people about their manifesto and policies as part of canvassing for next elections.
The PTI activists insisted that as most local party leaders faced court cases, especially over the May 9-10 riots, “silence” in the PTI camp would harm its election drive.
They said the party, which won two National Assembly and five provincial assembly seats in the district during last elections had “disappeared” from the local political scene.
The PTI workers insisted that the first task of the leadership would be the “damage control” to be followed by soliciting votes from residents.
They said the PTI would be in trouble if it had to contest polls in the district with former prime minister Imran Khan being in custody and out of the electoral arena.
They insisted that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-Parliamentarians had so far failed to rope in PTI stalwarts but if it achieved success on that front, the PTI would be eradicated from the district.
A PTI leader told Dawn that he contacted Mr Asad two days ago and got the “assurance that the situation is expected to improve in the next two or three weeks.”
Meanwhile, the police on Monday began a crackdown on unregistered motorcycles here.
DSP headquarters Jawad Khan told reporters that unregistered motorcycles were used by militants to target law-enforcement agencies, including police. He said unregistered motorcycles would remain in police’s custody until the completion of their registration.
Published in Dawn, September 26th, 2023