The race between two former foreign ministers, Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri and Sardar Assef Ahmad Ali, to join Imran Khan’s party ended on Tuesday with Kasuri announcing that he joins the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
Kasuri, who was once an important leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid’s Likeminded Group, announced at a public rally that he has individually decided to join hands with Imran Khan.
“Pakistani youths fully support PTI Chairman Imran Khan and this popularity among the youth has forced me to join the party,” he said.
Sources within the PTI told The Express Tribune that although Kasuri had technically joined the party ‘unconditionally’, he has requested Khan to take him into his party before former foreign minister Sardar Assef Ali joined the PTI.
Sources added that there was a ‘covert’ race between Kasuri and Ali over joining the PTI first — both desiring an earlier admission and a bigger joining ceremony into the party by Khan.
The Express Tribune has learnt that Kasuri had already informed Khan that his faction in the PML-Q Likeminded Group, including Hamid Nasir Chattha and the likes, had decided against joining the party.
Sources added that Kasuri had two major reasons to join the PTI.
Firstly, Kasuri took into account the preference of his students who are studying in his private chain of schools (Beaconhouse and The City School) in which 90 per cent youth favoured Khan’s party and expressed the desire that their administration align itself with the PTI.
Secondly, the youth popularity of PTI was something the former foreign minister could not ignore. It was revealed that Khan agreed to the understanding and promised Ali that he would receive the second big joining ceremony after Kasuri’s.
Ali is currently the Pakistan Peoples Party’s (PPP) MNA from Kasur. He served as the foreign minister in the PPP government earlier and is expected to join the PTI soon.
Khan while addressing Kasuri’s reception said that the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) came to power several times but did nothing for the public. He vowed that the PTI would foil PML-N’s attempt to come to power again.
“The PTI will clean sweep the upcoming general elections,” said Khan.
Meanwhile, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qurashi said that President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani should realise that time for them to hang their boots had arrived.
Khan will address a ceremony in Islamabad on December 21 (today) where former and sitting members of different political parties hailing from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa will join the PTI. On December 22, Khan will visit Multan where the PTI’s vice chairman’s younger brother will also join the party.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 21st, 2011.