DI KHAN: Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf workers have begun to mobilise people and launch a membership campaign in South Waziristan ahead of the party chairman’s expected visit to the tribal belt in September.
The area has traditionally been the centre of religio-political parties but PTI, whose chief Imran Khan’s roots can be traced back to the tribal belt, has begun canvassing in the area. Imran’s mother Shaukat Khanum, in whose name he has built a cancer treatment and research hospital in Lahore, belonged to the Burki tribe of Kanni Guram in South Waziristan.
The agency’s summer headquarters Wana has historically been a stronghold of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl since 1996, when adult franchise was granted to the people of Fata by then president Farooq Leghari.
“Thousands of people are visiting the membership camp and showing interest,” Ajab Gul Khan Wazir, a Fata MNA, told The Express Tribune.
Wazir said that soon a PTI secretariat will be set up in Wana Bazaar and PTI workers will visit far-flung areas to explain the agenda of PTI. “Most young people in Wana are not affiliated with a political party and we want to avail this opportunity to bring them under the umbrella of PTI. We are taking a great risk as we know that this area is the centre of militants.”
PTI’s focus on South Waziristan has drawn a sharp reaction from members of JUI-F.
“These youngsters are politically immature and don’t know the complexities of tribal politics,” Maulana Jan Muhammad, a resident of Wana who is an active member of the JUI-F, said. “We are not worried about such camps. The residents of tribal areas have a deep respect for ulema-e-karam and they will always vote for them.”
But Wazir is optimistic. “Whether or not Imran Khan is a rightist or leftist, he is interested in our area. The Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz both have had two opportunities but they followed the colonial policy.”
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