Anti-govt drive: Factors behind PTI’s street action plan

Party wants to revive its popularity and rediscover its penchant for a ‘solo flight’


Qamar Zaman/news Desk July 25, 2016
There is a possibility that the PTI would stage protest rallies in different cities turn by turn every 15 days before going for the last option of sit-in, sources said. PHOTO: ABBAS RAZA/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: By announcing another street movement against the government on August 7, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has shown a desire to break off its tryst with the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on the Panamagate scandal and return to its trademark solo flight days.

Over a decade ago, veteran politician Mairaj Muhammad Khan, who passed away on Friday, had pointed out this tendency in the party in his resignation letter to PTI chief Imran Khan. Mairaj had joined the PTI after the 1997 elections and served as its secretary general.

“We were so lost in our own exaggerated sense of self-importance that we adopted the policy of ‘solo flight’ and the party did not even interact with other like-minded parties on important national and international issues.

“We neither joined any alliance nor took the initiative to build an alliance with respected and tested political leaders, who could have been excellent allies. Some of them would have joined us, if we had seriously sorted out matters with them, but this opportunity was also frittered away, resulting in our further political isolation,” said Mairaj in his letter dated April 28, 2003.

Without consulting any of the 11 opposition parties, PTI chief Imran Khan on July 20 announced plans to launch a street movement against the government -- hours after the grand opposition had decided to take up the matter before parliament.

Later PPP leader Khursheed Shah warned that the PTI solo flight might end up with no tangible results, drawing a parallel with the party’s 2014 dharna in Islamabad.

Background interviews with PTI leaders, however, suggest that the party does not trust some opposition parties, particularly the PPP, which, they fear will not take their crusade against corruption to its logical end.

“The PTI’s popularity was fading due to its alliance with the PPP,” a senior party official told The Express Tribune. Explaining his argument, he referred to the hardline the PTI had adopted against the PPP with regard to corruption and said it had become difficult to justify the decision to the workers.

The PPP have been using opposition’s grand alliances as a bargaining chip to settle issues with the government, said another party official. He referred to the corruption case of former petroleum minister Dr Asim Hussain and said the PPP cannot go against corruption.

“At the same time, the PTI cannot afford to defer its movement merely because other parties in the opposition do not want to take to the streets,” he added. Though the PTI has announced that the street protest starting from August 7 is not going to end till the government accept its demands with regard to probe into Panama leaks isuue, the mode of protest is yet unclear.

There is a possibility that the PTI would stage protest rallies in different cities turn by turn every 15 days before going for the last option of sit-in, sources said.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2016.

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