The Nation: Imran’s PTI gets a friendly PAT

February 07, 2013

LAHORE – The Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaaf of Imran Khan has been supporting the agenda of Dr Tahirul Qadri, but it preferred to not participate in the Pakistan Awami Tehrik’s last month’s long march to Islamabad and a four-day sit-in there.

The major reason for abstaining from it was that motives were being attributed to Dr Qadri’s mission. Some suspected that he has come from Canada to derail the democratic system with the financial support of some unknown foreign power(s). Others thought that the Minar-i-Pakistan public meeting and the long march were aimed at getting the elections delayed.

Although Dr Qadri declared on oath that he had not been financed by anyone and had no plan to derail the democratic process or delay the polls, there were still many who were not willing to change their opinion. So, they decided to keep themselves at a distance from the ‘Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin’.

On the other hand, the PAT chief was also determined to rely exclusively on his own strength and resources. He led the march and the sit-in and created a situation that the rulers were left with no option but to hold talks with him.

Representatives of all the four parties in the coalition at the centre signed an agreement with the PAT chief, as a result of which Dr Qadri got a say – equal to that the opposition leader in the National Assembly - in the selection of a caretaker prime minister. (The two sides, however, could not reconcile their positions on the need for the reconstitution of the Election Commission).

Some opponents of the PAT chairman continued their onslaught and alleged that the doctor would fly back to Canada on January 27 and that he has already reserved his seat. Some media reports said that the Canadian government had taken a serious notice of Dr Qadri’s activities in Pakistan because they amounted to breaching the oath he had taken as a citizen of that country. It was also alleged that Dr Qadri had sought political asylum in Canada as Abdul Shakoor Qadri, and not his actual name.

The PAT chairman refuted all such reports. Then the PAT chief said that the formula devised for the selection of the caretaker prime minister would also be applied in the provinces, as a result of which Dr Qadri would also play a role in picking the caretaker chief ministers.

Most of the political players were stunned by the way the PAT chief was getting so much importance despite the fact that his party had been dormant for the past several years and had no representation in the assemblies.

What was published in support of Dr Qadri or against him motivated the PTI leadership to establish a direct contact with the doctor and find out the truth. It was in this background that a high-level PTI delegation turned up for a heart-to-heart with him.

Senior Vice Chairman Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, President Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Secretary General Dr Arif Alvi and some others held a three-hour meeting with Dr Qadri at his Model Town residence and held frank discussions on the PAT chairman’s agenda, his strategy and future plans.

All misunderstandings stood allayed. At the end of the meeting, there was a realisation in both sides that they have harmony of thought and can work together.

“We want to unite the forces of change”, said Mr Hashmi while talking to reporters. This was a clear recognition by the veteran leader that the PAT chairman was among the forces of change.

Undoubtedly, it was a good beginning. As things stand, not only the PAT and the PTI have identical views about the need for the reconstitution of the Election Commission of Pakistan, the PML-Q is also on the same page.

Top PML-Q leaders have been complaining that the ECP had failed to take notice of irregularities in the by- elections, because of which the poll body must be reconstituted.

While the fate of the ECP would be decided by the Supreme Court after hearing Dr Qadri’s arguments on the subject, the commonality of views appears to have brought the PAT and the PTI closer. It will be in the interest of both the parties if they work together in future.

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