Party in disarray

After desertions galore, now splinters take centre stage

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is in the disarray of a party that is fast disintegrating. The daily hemorrhaging seems to show no signs of letting up, as those who strengthened the hands of the party ahead of the 2018 election by a fervent entry into the PTI, complete with a mandatory appearance alongside PTI chairman Imran Khan while draped them in the party’s distinctive colours, now part ways by holding a press conference in which they ritualistically invoke the May 19 mayhem, sometimes saying that they will leave politics entirely.

However, now there is a new phenomenon, as splinter groups begin to come crawling out of the woodwork. The PTI (Nazriati), which has been largely dormant, even comatose, since it registered itself with the Election Commission of Pakistan in 2018, has suddenly re-emerged, and its chief, Ahsan Iqbal Dar, has said that he will be supporting Jahangir Tareen’s goup in the coming elections. Mr Tareen’s group, which is considered crucial in South Punjab, played a crucial role in having the PML(N)’s Hamza Shehbaz elected Punjab CM last year. He is considered to have played a key role in having Mr Khan elected Prime Minister by his having delivered the support of independent members. He is a former Secretary General of the party, and it is noteworthy that those who succeeded him, former Health Minister Aamer Mehmood Kiani, and former Planning Minister Asad Umar, have left the party over the May 9 incidents, with only President Arif Alvi remaining loyal.

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Mr Khan may find it difficult, if not impossible, to put together his party. The splinters may not split the party vote as much as they claim, because it should be remembered that the PTI vote is cast for Imran Khan, and unless the splinter group has his endorsement, is unlikely to confuse the voter. However, it should not be forgotten that the PTI’s 2018 success was based on support for Mr Khan being combined with that of electable personal vote bank. Those personal vote banks will not be available to the PTI if their electables end up in a splinter group. The struggle has clearly entered a new phase, one with no holds barred.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected].


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