PTI split over mode of elections in intraparty polls

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With the party deeply divided into three groups over the future course of action regarding the upcoming intra-party elections, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chief Election Commissioner Tasnim Noorani is set to start a consultative process on Thursday (today) with various factions of the party to evolve a consensus on the procedure for the party elections to be completed by April this year.

Well-placed sources have informed Pakistan Today that there were serious differences among the three groups over how the elections should be held with an influential landlord lobby close to Imran Khan planning to avoid direct elections on the top slots.

“This group comprises leaders who are not very popular among the party workers. They want Imran Khan to run for direct elections while the rest of the party offices will be filled by Khan once he wins,” a senior PTI leader told Pakistan Today.

“One of the central leaders of the party has also raised a proposal that rather than holding direct elections, the right to vote may be exercised by an elite club,” the PTI leader said.

To a query whether this group had support from other groups, the PTI leader said that another group within the party was also supportive of the idea. “However, we have formed an ideological group which is opposing both groups and we will not allow them to run away with party elections. We want direct elections against five to seven top offices of the party,” he added.

The PTI leader said that keeping in view the differences, Imran Khan had formed a committee which would meet with Noorani today to help evolve consensus among the three factions of the party.

The committee, led by Hamid Khan also includes KP Minister Shah Farman, Asad Umar and Chaudhry Sarwar.

Talking to Pakistan Today, Hamid Khan confirmed that the committee would meet with the party’s CEC today to help achieve consensus over the procedural matters.

“Yes, we will be meeting with Noorani sahib to understand his vision on the elections. We want to avoid the mistakes made in the past and make the electoral process transparent,” said Khan who was the party’s chief election commissioner during the previous elections, which were rife with complaints of rigging and were declared void by the PTI’s election tribunal led by Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed.

“Direct elections can be held against five or seven offices but final decision should be made with consensus,” he said, ruling out the option of indirect elections.

Former Punjab governor Chaudhry Sarwar admitted the fact that there were differences among the party leaders over the election modalities.

“Elections are never unanimous in any party and everybody has a different opinion. Some believe that elections should be held on the basis of popular vote while others only want the direct elections for the top slot. But we are working to bridge the gaps,” he added.

Meanwhile, the party’s ideological group has also formed its own committee comprising party’s senior leaders from KP, Punjab and Sindh.

The ideological group claims that during the last party elections, the other two groups accommodated each other through irregularities. “These same groups also accommodated each other while distributing party tickets and other positions,” a leader of the ideological group said.

This reformist group includes Abdul Qayyum Kundi, Justice (r) Wajihuddin Ahmed, Saleem Jan, former PTI Sindh president Jahangir Rehman and Walid Iqbal among others. This group has also won support from a faction of the Insaf Students Federation (the youth wing) who were previously with Saifullah Niazi.

When contacted, Abdul Qayyum Kundi said that the ideological workers of the party wanted free and fair intra-party elections as promised by Chairman Imran Khan.

“It is only possible when terms of reference (TOR) of the PTI Election Commission and the party’s constitution are followed in letter and spirit. We expect Chairman Imran Khan to remain neutral as he announced that he would, and we hope that he will stop meeting former central office holders. We support PTI’s election commission and will not allow anyone to exert undue pressure on them or engage in unconstitutional actions. A majority of members of the party are supporting our position,” he maintained.

Kundi said that the ideological workers wanted PTI to become a political institution that allowed the best in the nation to engage in politics as leaders.

“This is only possible when the party’s constitution is respected and merit applied. We will be participating in the next intra-party election with this objective in mind. We announced our committee to engage with PTI’s election commission to develop a consensus on the election process to ensure free and fair party elections,” he said.