ISLAMABAD: Beset on all sides, the PTI seems to have finally come to the realisation that in order to survive in the electoral landscape of Pakistan, it may have to sit down with other political stakeholders, including the PML-N and PPP, instead of relying on the powers that be.
“Although the party is not ready to hold negotiations with the PPP and PML-N, it seems we may be left with no other option but to talk to these parties,” a PTI leader told a handful of journalists during a briefing. To this end, he said, a chapter on ‘healing the politics’ has been included in the party manifesto as well.
Moreover, the action against the former ruling party’s workers and activists has not dented its spirits, the leader claimed, adding that after its ‘successful’ power shows in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — despite restrictions — the party has decided to organise countrywide conventions to rejuvenate its election bid, even if the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) does not allocate it the ‘bat’ symbol.
In case of a ban on the party to contest polls, it will field independent candidates, the leader said.
During the briefing, party leaders said they were aware of efforts to keep the PTI out of the elections and a counter-strategy in this regard was also in place. “…we have decided to contest the Feb 8 election on any electoral symbol…and we are ready to field independent candidates in case of a ban,” a senior leader of the party said on the condition of anonymity.
‘2018 blunder will not be repeated’
As per the PTI leader, the party has also learned from its past mistakes. For instance, it will not pick the ‘wrong persons’ to represent the party, nor will it form a government without having a clear majority in parliament.
“…It was also a blunder to form the government in 2018 as we did not have a clear majority,” he said, adding that such a move would not be repeated in the future. He said that Imran Khan has also realised that “it was not a wise decision to make the government in 2018 without having a clear majority” in the National Assembly.
Another representative of the party said that the powers that be were frustrated as they were hoping that Mr Khan would not be able to last a single day in jail but now he has spent almost 130 days in “detention”. “But the PTI’s popularity increased after the arrest of Imran Khan and this situation can force them to delay or suspend the elections. In that case, the Supreme Court could play its role,” he said.
In response to a question about recent appointments in the PTI, particularly of its chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, the PTI leader said Imran Khan had asked Hamid Khan to become the chairman of the party, but the latter had refused.
Asked about the impression that the party had been hijacked by lawyers, he said the PTI managed to “get the affiliation and sympathies” of a majority among the lawyers’ community.
Replying to a question about Afghan immigrants, the PTI leader criticised the government for mishandling the Afghan issue. “It will increase problems for Pakistan and we will not be able to make the Pak-Afghan border peaceful,” he said.
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2023