Friday, February 3, 2023

Is There A New Political Party in the Offing?

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The political uncertainty in Pakistan has created a deep vacuum within the political elements and it appears that the ground is being prepared for the formation of a new anti-PTI political party that may try to get its pound of flesh out of the ongoing political turmoil.

It was expected that the unraveling process of the PTI would result in freeing many of its public representatives who would search for new places to park themselves.

This situation started to come to public knowledge when Imran Khan’s close allies Faisal Vawda and Khurram Hameed Rokhri fell out of him amongst plenty of acrimony and were thrown out of the party. This fall-out indicated that most electables would soon be quitting the party and this eventuality was quietly acknowledged by senior PTI leaders that attempts to woo such electables was already in practice though they were insistent that any such attempt was bound to fail keeping in the huge public clout possessed by the PTI.

It is reported that more than 60 electables particularly the ones having erstwhile been associated with PMLN and PPP belonging to Punjab had joined the PTI ahead of the 2018 general elections that perched the party up catapulting it into the corridors of power. When this political engineering was carried out in 2018 both the major political parties condemned it but the process could not be stopped.

With the radically changed situation after the change of regime the prospects of electables ditching PTI became quite obvious and it was pointed out that they would soon tap the political parties for taking them in. This did happen with the proviso that the two largest parties in the ruling coalition reportedly refused to accept such turncoats in their fold and the only option left for them is to fend for themselves. Keeping in view this situation the speculations have gained currency that a new political formation is in the offing and may soon come to fore.

It is now reported that the formation of a new political party may heavily rest upon the public representatives belonging to south Punjab as it is well known that unlike other parts of the province, major political parties, PMLN, PPP are not dominant in comparison with independent politicians. In wake of such situation, expecting emergence of a new political front is quite obvious though both the expected proponents of such moves, Jahangir Khan Tareen and Aleem Khan have reportedly distanced themselves from such efforts.

However, such denials do not carry any weight as this is recognised to be the standard practice in the frenzied political scenario of the country. In this connection it is pointed out that the proponents of a new political formation actually aim to launch themselves as more of political manipulators rather than playing simple political role.

In this context, it is worth recalling that over a decade ago, as former federal minister Jahangir Khan Tareen had floated the idea of launching a party of clean politicians as an alternative to PMLN and PPP. The other significant leader is Chaudhry Sarwar who had two stints as governor Punjab interestingly appointed both by the PMLN and PTI but he fell out with both of them for one or another reason. He is said to be in contact with the establishment and may decide his future course of action on its advice.

The need for forming a new political structure has become all the more necessary for the public representatives owing to the stand taken by PMLN that the party might not award tickets to them because of their humiliating defeat in the by-polls in July.

The PML-N blamed the turncoat factor for their loss in the July by-polls and declared that they would not be considered for tickets in the next general election. At least 25 PTI MPAs — including Aleem Khan — had violated the party line last year and voted for PMLN chief minister candidate Hamza Shehbaz. Under the court’s order these lawmakers stood disqualified. The PML-N awarded them tickets for the by-polls last July in return for their sacrifice but almost all of them lost to the PTI paving the way for the ouster of short-lived chief minister Hamza Shehbaz.

Similarly, some PTI dissident MNAs from the Tareen group had joined hands with the PMLN-led coalition in the Centre — incumbent opposition leader Raja Riaz is one of them. They are also said to be exploring future political options. With the changed situation the party will award tickets in these constituencies keeping in view the ground realities and sentiments of the party workers and this considerations leaves very little chance that PMLN will award tickets to these dissidents. On the other hand, the PPP also was reportedly trying hard to get some turncoats to join it yet, despite the co-chairman’s long stay in Lahore and plenty of efforts, he has not succeeded in making a satisfactory breakthrough.

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