After a brief lull, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) roadshow has sprung back to life, dispelling the impression that Imran Khan’s bandwagon is losing steam. The party’s back to back public rallies at Bahawalnagar, Hasilpur, Muzaffargarh, Khanewal and Mailsi during a three-day whirlwind tour of south Punjab attracted enough people to show the incumbents that they’ll have a run for their money in the region. Khan is to address important public rallies in Sialkot on March 23 and in his hometown Mianwali on March 24.
Khan swung back into action from last month after a relatively quiet spell during which he concentrated on his party’s organisation, forming a policy planning cell, a constitution committee and a steering committee to look after new entrants into the party. In February, he swept through 17 towns and villages in rural Lahore in two days. For the last few days, he has been camped in Lahore planning rallies and delegating organisational matters to party stalwarts, that included an important move to name veteran Javed Hashmi as party president.
Yesterday at Zaman Park, he welcomed three-time MNA Rao Qaiser from Depalpur and the Cheema brothers from Sialkot. The latter are a breakthrough for the PTI in Sialkot, as most of the city’s national and provincial seats belong to the PML-Nawaz. It’ll be interesting to see how Sialkot receives the PTI caravan.
“I want to tell our detractors that the tsunami is not stoppable,” said Khan at the press conference to welcome Qaiser and the Cheema brothers. “The decadent old system built around corruption has to go. The status quo forces must see the coming tsunami and stop trying to stop it through their intrigues.”
The PTI chairman ridiculed the notion that his party had the support of the establishment. “They were first calling me an ISI agent and now they say I am a Jewish agent. They must decide quickly who I am,” he said.
“They have seen us in Lahore, in Karachi, in Multan, in Sindh … They thought that with the departure of a general the party was finished. I am not the one who is walking with the crutches of the army,” said Khan, referring to Lt Gen Shuja Pasha’s departure as head of the ISI.
Khan said his party’s organisation in south Punjab was being divided into three chapters for Multan, Bahawalpur and DG Khan. The party constitution, being drawn up for the last three months, will soon go public, he said.
The constitution, it seems, lays down a separation of powers between party members and those who want to run for public office. The word is that the party’s cadre would have a check over the executive if the party comes to power. The policy planning cell headed by Jehangir Tareen will look after policy on all issues concerning security, politics and the economy. The recently launched Insaf Professional Forum will feed ideas to the policy cell.
While Shah Mehmood Qureshi is vice-chairman of the party, the day to day political matters will be resolved by Javed Hashmi. He will also look after the membership drive of the party, in which it expects to sign some four million members. These members will serve as the electoral college for the party candidates in each district.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2012.
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