Sipping tea in a dhabba in the heart of Islamabad, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf President Javed Hashmi says Imran Khan’s slogan of change has already won the hearts of the nation. What remains now is to win the elections, and the baghi is confident on that front as well. “PTI will clean sweep the 2013 general elections – Inshallah,” he said.
But what if it doesn’t?
“We will prefer to sit on the opposition benches instead of getting into political horse-trading for the sake of power,” said Hashmi, in an exclusive interview with The Express Tribune.
He said there was no possibility of an alliance with ‘traditional’ political parties like Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) in order to form the next government.
A veteran of many elections, Hashmi now spends most of his time being driven around in his black Land Cruiser as he goes door to door along with PTI leader Wasim Shahzad. To him, one of the best parts of this campaign has been the injection of young blood into mainstream politics; something he says has been a great experience after decades of traditional rough-and-tumble constituency politics.
After having previously declared his unwillingness to be part of the federal cabinet if his party were voted to power, Hashmi also announced that he would not accept the offices of president or prime minister were they to be offered to him.
Though he is confident of his electoral chances, the scion of Multan faces stiff opposition on both seats: NA-48 (Islamabad) and NA-149 (Multan). In NA-48, which may prove a litmus test for the senior PTI leader, he will face two previous winners - Mian Aslam of Jamaat-e-Islami and Anjum Aqeel Khan of PML-N - in addition to the PPP’s new entrant Faisal Sakhi Butt.
In Hashmi’s home constituency of NA-149 (Multan), the PTI president will face his old rival Malik Liaqat Ali Dogar of PPP in addition to Liaqat Baloch of Jamaat-e-Islami and the PML-N’s Shaikh Mushammad Tariq.
Hashmi, who joined PTI in December 2011, said his party believes in the Islamic ideology and will continue to promote the idea “come what may.” As an influential figure in Pakistan’s politics, Hashmi, who had won three NA seats in the 2008 general elections, said his party and its workers had given a wake-up call to major political parties by fielding over 800 candidates across the country.
“It’s our turn now, we have introduced a new democratic concept in Pakistan’s politics,” said Hashmi.
Admitting that the PPP had always held the trump card of democracy before, Hashmi said that change has come. “This time PTI has changed the mindset of over 86 million voters. Our party will introduce a new political culture in the country based on merit and equality where there would be no room for corrupt and crooked politicians, he added.
Battle-hardened and boasting strong anti-establishment credentials, the PTI leader said that if his party sought support from other political parties to form the next government it would be the only mistake of Imran Khan’s entire political career.
Conceding that only 20 per cent of his party’s candidates were ‘electable’ contenders, Hashmi said that it was clear that PTI had planted a new breed of politicians by not running after ‘dishonest’ electable candidates.
Admitting that he felt pleased when he saw former army chief Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf under house arrest, Hashmi stressed that military interference in elections was unacceptable under any circumstances.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 2nd, 2013.
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