Differences among party leaders led the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday to not launch a long march just yet against the government for the execution of party chief Imran Khan’s seven-point charter of demands.
PTI insiders told The Express Tribune that a long march, if any, would be regarded as a strategy of last resort if all attempts to install a neutral caretaker government set-up failed.
The top leadership of PTI has decided not to join hands with firebrand cleric Dr Tahirul Qadri, chief of Minhajul Quran International (MQI).
The move comes following the party think-tank’s recommendations, which advised Khan that by staging a dharna outside the Parliament House in Islamabad, MQI has won over the hearts of the oppressed people.
“Imran refused to join hands with Qadri after sensing political pressure in favour of other [political] parties,” said an anonymous party leader who attended the meeting. “We have decided to stand by other parties, paving the way for holding the next general elections on time.”
Khan remained silent when senior PTI leaders told him that the party could not strike while the iron is hot. “We should [have] played with the public sentiments before Qadri sahib gathered the crowd,” the leader said, while quoting Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
PTI President Javed Hashmi and Qureshi told the participants of the meeting that allying with Dr Qadri at the moment would prove to be a disastrous move for PTI, the party leader added. They also criticised those party leaders who recommended Khan to be a part of the influential scholar’s dharna, he claimed. In its recommendations, the party’s Islamabad leadership asked the PTI chief to join forces with MQI as soon as possible.
“Even though there is strong support for MQI within PTI’s ranks, we took the decision to strengthen the democratic process,” said another PTI leader.
“We will not participate in Qadri’s long march,” PTI’s Information Secretary Shafqat Mehmood said. PTI for the time-being will also put all its aggressive plans (protests) on hold to support the struggle for free and fair elections, Mehmood claimed.
He also reiterated that “come what may, we will participate in the next elections.” PTI believes in free and fair elections which could not be held under President Asif Ali Zardari, he said, adding that his party will chalk out a strategy on how to oust the president.
Party leaders were non-committal on PTI’s next strategy, but said they had adopted a “wait-and-watch policy” in the aftermath of rising political uncertainty.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 17th, 2013.