Delaying forming new party to avoid ‘establishment’ tag, says Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar

Published December 23, 2023
Former PPP senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar speaks in an interview. — DawnNewsTV
Former PPP senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar speaks in an interview. — DawnNewsTV

Former PPP senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar has said that plans to create a new political party are being put on hold to avoid the possibility of being labelled “pro-establishment”, but will resume after the February 8 general elections.

Earlier this year, the former senator, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former finance minister Miftah Ismail held a series of seminars — dubbed ‘Reimagining Pakistan’ — to highlight the country’s current challenges and develop a consensus on the future course of action required by all stakeholders.

While there were initially no plans to create a political party, the trio solidified their decision in October, citing an “urgent need” in the country for a new political party.

Other newly formed parties include PTI breakaway factions Jehangir Tareen’s Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP) and Pervez Khattak’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Parliamentarians (PTI-P), both of which have cannibalised prominent members of the party.

Abbasi echoed Khokhar’s opinion that creating a political party before elections would risk inviting “pro-establishment” labels.

He added that the space for a new party to emerge would still exist after elections.

Earlier in Oct, Khokhar had cautioned against being tagged as “pro-establishment,” adding that the people could not be blamed for such apprehensions too due to the country’s political past.

Speaking on DawnNewsTV television show ‘Doosra Rukh’ on Friday, Khokhar clarified that Ismail had not quit politics and would join him and Abbasi after the elections.

“He has the political bug within him, he won’t let anyone sit still,” Khokhar said.

He added that he is hopeful that the trio would join together after the elections.

Khokhar was of the opinion that a “simple majority” environment is being created for PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif to be elected prime minister for a fourth term.

“When his main competitor — PTI — is being weakened, as we can see happening, there is no doubt that a path is being created for him,” the former senator said.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Friday decided against letting the PTI retain its ‘bat’ electoral symbol for the upcoming election on Feb 8.

Khokar also said that Nawaz was aware that the ladla (blue-eyed) label was hurting his perception in the eyes of the public.

“The way he has been granted swift release in all his cases, no ordinary criminal gets such treatment,” Khokhar said, adding that the authorities in Punjab are tilted in favour of Nawaz.

Khokhar questioned why taxpayer money was being “wasted” in the electoral process “if major decisions were being made behind closed doors anyway”.

When asked about the finality of elections being held on Feb 8, Khokhar said the Supreme Court gave a clear message that they won’t allow anything to derail the elections from its prescribed date.

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