LONDON / KARACHI: After months of speculation, a glimpse of ‘Awaam Pakistan’ — the new party on the block — appeared on the country’s political horizon on Thursday.

The video posted on the X account of Awaam Pakistan was shared with the tagline ‘Awaam Pakistan: Badlein ge nizam’ (People of Pakistan: We will change the system).

It featured a string of despondent citizens asking questions about multiple national issues such as inflation, gas and electricity shortage, corruption, unemployment and lack of schools for girls.

The video was reposted by ex-finance minister Miftah Ismail and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, who have long floated the idea of a new political entity to take the country out of perennial crises.

Several ex-PML-N leaders listed as founding members of long-expected venture; Khokhar ‘to stay away’ from new party

Mr Abbasi and Mr Ismail — two former PML-N leaders — along with former PPP senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, were said to have been working on the project ever since they quit their parties over policy differences in 2022 and 2023.

The three then formed a group of political mavericks that held a series of nationwide seminars in 2023 on the challenges facing the country under the banner of ‘Reimagining Pakistan’.

New party, old guard

Mr Abbasi has been mentioned as the convener of Awaam Pakistan’s organising committee, and Mr Ismail his deputy.

Sources told Dawn that Mr Khokhar is no longer with the group as he wanted to push forward the party’s launch to wait for an Islamabad High Court’s decision on the result of NA-47 Islamabad, from where he contested the February 8 general election.

However, other members were in favour of a swift launch.

While talking to Dawn, Mr Ismail said the group had kept the option of launching a political party open when they were holding seminars under the banner of Reimagining Pakistan. “It’s not [a decree] from heaven that only traditional politicians like Nawaz Sharif or Asif Zardari or Fazlur Rehman can do politics. We, the non-traditional, can also do that. The people of Pakistan can do that.”

Several former PML-N stalwarts have already joined the new party, and known professionals are also filling up the ranks.

According to Mr Ismail, the party’s org­a­nising committee included former Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa governor and PML-N leader Sardar Mehtab Ahmed Khan, former PML-N Senator Javed Abbassi and former MQM MNA Sheikh Salahuddin.

The founding members include for­mer PML-N MNA from Faisalabad Rana Zahid Tauseef, former health minister Zafar Mirza, former PML-N MPA Zaeem Huss­ain Qadri, Hazara activist Fatima Atif, Sindhi nat­ionalist leader Anwar Soo­mro, legal expert Abdul Moiz Jaferii and ex-HEC chairman Tariq Javed Banuri.

The former finance minister’s response was in the affirmative when asked if the new party would contest elections.

Mr Abbasi, the former prime minister, also confirmed to Dawn that the party will be formally launched on July 6 or 7 with 17 founding members.

“We have not actually pursued anybody. These are people who want to work and think it’s a good platform. They are people who are worried about the country.”

“We are not collecting electables. Professionals and experts should be in political parties; that is the depth we need today,” he said.

Mr Abbasi said former prime minister Imran Khan brought professionals into his party after taking power.

“They were not part of his party from the start. In our case, these people are part of a party being launched.”

When asked whether the party had engaged with the establishment before its launch, Mr Abbasi said: “Our relationship with the establishment will be according to the Constitution and nothing beyond that — this is something we firmly believe.”

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2024

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