ISLAMABAD: A group of about two dozen former ministers and dissidents belonging to the country’s major political parties, mostly from the Pakistan Muslim League-Q, are negotiating terms with cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan for formally joining his Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) or to have an electoral alliance with it, Dawn has learnt.
“Yes, we have been in touch with Imran Khan and the people in his party for almost six months and discussing the plan and the nature of cooperation with them to work together to achieve common objectives,” said Ishaq Khan Khakwani, a former minister in the military-led regime of Gen Pervez Musharraf.
Talking to Dawn here on Sunday, Mr Khakwani claimed that his group, led by former minister Jahangir Khan Tareen, had made headway in the talks with the PTI, but made it clear that the group was not going to join the PTI and negotiations were being held only on the nature of cooperation between them.
Mr Khakwani said the group came into existence when the PML-Q chief Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain decided to join hands with the PPP.
“We dissociated ourselves from the Chaudhrys after their decision to join the PPP and decided to go on our own to provide a new platform to the people of Pakistan to give them a hope,” he said.
Another member of the group, Ghulam Sarwar Khan, who had served as federal minister in the regimes of both Gen Pervez Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto, not only confirmed that talks were in progress with the PTI, but also claimed that a number of sitting MNAs and MPAs belonging to the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the ‘N’ and ‘Q’ factions of the PML were also in touch with them.
He said the group that had been formed by them some six months back was in the process of expansion and consultations were on about the mechanism.
Awais Leghari, another ex-minister in the military-led government of former prime minister Shaukat Aziz, however, remained reluctant in confirming his group’s contact with Mr Khan, but said the group in no way could join hands with the country’s three major parties—the PPP, PML-N and PML-Q.
“I am ruling out completely the possibility of joining hands with political mafias of the country on the basis of principles,” said Mr Leghari.
Mr Leghari said the members of the group comprising PML-Q dissidents and some other patriotic elements were concerned over the state of economy and had been holding a ‘serious discussion’ to formulate a strategy not to form the government, but to bring the country out of chaos.
In response to a question regarding the possibility of joining or forming an alliance with the PTI, he said such talks were “premature and too early.”
Former minister and now a PML-F legislator Jahangir Tareen had announced in July to form a new political party of ‘clean politicians’ to provide an alternative to the PPP and the PML-N in the next elections. He had even announced at that time that the new party could forge an alliance with the PTI due to similarities in the objectives.
Mr Tareen is nowadays in London.
A private TV channel quoted him as saying that he had already informed Mr Khan about the names of his group members who intended to join the PTI.
PTI’s additional secretary general Saifullah Khan Niazi confirmed that his party was in contact with the group, led by Mr Tareen, but said the party had so far not taken any decision in this regard.
Political experts believe that if the group joins hands with Mr Khan then it will be most major achievement of the PTI, since its establishment some 14 years ago. Former foreign minister and PPP dissident Shah Mehmood Qureshi, according to some sources close to him, is also inclined towards the PTI, but he has so far made no decision and waiting for an appropriate time.