Sloganeering and public rhetoric aside, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf would be willing to partner with the United States, party leaders say.
Party Chairman Imran Khan, at a recent meeting with the US ambassador, indicated that his party would be ‘absolutely comfortable’ working with the US on all issues, including the war on terror, since both countries have strong mutual interests.
Contrary to popular perception, the US sees Imran Khan and the PTI as essential to their assessment of Pakistan’s political scenario, a prominent PTI leader said while talking to The Express Tribune.
“There is no love lost between the PTI and US,” the leader said, adding that “the US is striving hard to gain popular public support, and in the face of Imran Khan, this support could serve its purpose.”
The US ambassador also reportedly assured Imran that his country was comfortable with PTI and its ideology.
“After the 2008 elections, the PPP and PML-N, who were riding on the wave of public approval, did very little to mitigate or tone down the anti-US sentiments in the country,” the PTI leader said.
“In the face of Imran Khan, however, a clean and popular figure would emerge, whom Washington would be happy to work with,” the leader said, adding “It would also provide a sharp contrast to the decaying images of President Zardari and PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif.”
“We told the US that we would not do anything which could destroy the precious Pak-US relations, nor do we intend to provoke the superpower,” the source said.
During the meeting both, the US ambassador and Imran, agreed that a strong Pakistan would benefit all concerned, including the United States,” the source added.
The PTI leadership had initially denied the Imran-Munter meeting, until the US ambassador admitted on a talk show that he had met Imran more than once, but never in the presence of DG ISI General Shuja Pasha.
Party’s central Information Secretary Omar Cheema said that during the meeting, Imran put forward the party’s position on Pak-US relations.
“Imran Khan told the US ambassador that Pakistan wanted a relationship based on honour and dignity and Pakistan’s sovereignty should not be violated,” said Cheema.
Swelling party ranks
The party leader, who wished to remain anonymous, said that former federal minister Jehangir Tareen would soon join the party, along with 12 provincial ministers.
“The joining of Tarin and his group would tilt the balance in PTI’s favour, in southern Punjab,” the leader said.
“At the moment it’s like a gold rush. Former PPP leaders, including Nisar Akbar from Faisalabad, Ghulam Sarwar Cheema from Wazirabad and Zafar Waraich from Rahim Yar Khan, have also joined the party,” the source added.
On Shah Mahmood joining the party, the source said that the former foreign minister didn’t have much choice.
Links with the establishment
The PTI leader said his party was “not one bit bothered” by talk of the establishment’s tacit support.
“There may be people around in the party who might have links with the security agencies but let me tell you, Imran Khan understands that more than the PTI needing the establishment, the establishment needs us,” the source said.
He said there was strong resentment in the party on the inclusion of certain politicians, and the young cadre was adamant to clean up, but Khan has tried to allay their fears and asked them to trust him.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 12th, 2011.