The Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has failed to come up with a formal response to the findings of the judicial commission on electoral rigging, apparently owing to internal wrangling and divisions.
On Friday, the party’s top leadership gathered at Imran’s Bani Gala residence to discuss the possible fallouts of the inquiry report and the party’s future strategy. No official statement was released to the media, however.
Background discussions with some insiders suggested the party was struggling to evolve a consensus on how to respond to the findings due to divergent views. Many senior leaders like Ejaz Chaudhry, Azam Swati, Nadir Leghari, Dr Arif Alvi, Shafqat Mehmood and Qasim Suri did not even turn up at the informal meeting, a PTI leader, who attended the meeting, told The Express Tribune.
The PTI’s legal eagles namely Hamid Khan, Ahmed Awais and Abdul Hafiz Pirzada were also not available for certain reasons, he added. PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi was said to be disappointed with the performance of Pirzada’s legal team, which contested the case before the three-judge panel.
At the seven-hour marathon sitting at Bani Gala, where Jahangir Tareen, Asad Umar, Naeemul Haq and Dr Shireen Mazari were also present among many others, the party prepared its preliminary strategy to “re-establish the party’s image in the political arena”.
“We all are in shock over the findings of the judicial commission,” admitted one of the party leaders, who advised the PTI leadership “to focus on parliamentary politics now rather than dharnas (sit-ins).”
Many leaders were stunned to see Pakistan Peoples Party stalwart Babar Awan in Friday’s meeting, as Imran took his legal opinions, said the senior leader. “The party is going to accept the report in letter and spirit and will take its stand on addressing the shortcomings of the polling authority,” he added.
The PTI leaders will sit again today (Saturday) to finalise their plan with the PTI chief likely to announce his strategy in a press conference later.
PTI’s senior leader Hamid Khan admitted the party had failed to put up its case properly before the judicial commission.
Another participant of the meeting said the party leaders observed the PTI’s task force headed by Ishaq Khakwani had apparently failed to produce solid evidence before the judges.
Another PTI leader suggested the party should go for a quick reshuffle. “We might see changes in some portfolios of key leaders,” he added.
PTI Punjab President Ejaz Chaudhry was, however, adamant. “We will not offer any apology. As an opposition, we will push the rulers to clean the mess of Election Commission of Pakistan and also go for a new accountability system to purge the institutions of corruption,” he said.
Another PTI leader said a new strategy had been proposed to counter the victorious moves of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. “Our lawmakers in the National Assembly will raise their voice against the corruption of sitting ministers,” he said.
However, senior leader Dr Arif Alvi dispelled all talks of a crisis, saying the PTI did not face any setback due to the commission’s report. “Our struggle to get justice will continue,” he said. “Unfortunately we always get defeated by the status quo.”
He was endorsed by PTI Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa President Azam Swati, who believed the “sacrifices” the party gave during the dharna and then for forming a judicial commission was a historic accomplishment for the protection and viability of democratic institutions.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2015.