- Imran Khan denies intra-party polls being postponed due to widening differences between party groups
- Jahangir Tareen and Abdul Aleem say not interested in contesting intra-party elections, will serve PTI as ‘ordinary workers’
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Monday announced that he had decided to postpone the intra-party elections till at least April 24, to pursue the “more national and pertinent” issue of Panama Papers.
However, informed sources have told Pakistan Today that the intra-party elections were postponed following the surfacing of serious rifts within the party leaders, who have divided into two groups and are currently engaged in a bitter verbal onslaught against each other.
Speaking to reporters after a meeting of the top party leadership, Khan said the party elections were being postponed as the issue of Panama Leaks was more pertinent. He warned the government of a protest march on Raiwind if an independent commission was not set up to probe the revelations about offshore companies of the ruling family.
“This is an opportunity for Pakistan to root out corruption, we will pursue this issue to the end,” said the PTI chairman.
He said his party would set up a committee to monitor progress on proposed commission and enquiry till April 24. After that, he said, the committee would lay out a plan for the Raiwind march.
“We want a forensic audit firm; I appeal to overseas Pakistanis to hire one on behalf of Pakistan to investigate Sharifs… this is an international situation; I call every stakeholder in Pakistan to join us in this.”
The PTI chairman went on to say that he might even call an all parties conference after April 24 rally.
“This is internationally a huge opportunity, and a God given opportunity to Pakistan. The wave is global,” he said.
Khan said they wanted to avoid unnecessary arguments and fights. “I am of course ready to speak to [Interior Minister] Chaudhry Nisar … we are not going to D-Chowk. Our party wanted celebrations there but on government request we accepted an alternative venue of F9 Park,” he added.
Imran Khan also downplayed rift among senior leaders of the PTI that emerged after the party decided to hold intra-party elections.
“Groupings are normal within a party during intra-party elections, Sadly, no party in Pakistan has set a democratic precedent,” he said.
Meanwhile, sources privy to the meeting chaired by Imran Khan on Monday told Pakistan Today on condition of anonymity that widening differences between the two groups within the party had led to a postponement in the intra-party polls.
“Shah Mahmood Qureshi exposed the serious rifts within PTI during his address to the Nazriati Group workers’ convention in Lahore on Sunday. Imran Khan had taken notice of Qureshi’s vociferous attack on Jahangir Khan Tareen and Chaudhry Sarwar which is why he had summoned leaders from both sides to come to Islamabad and talk out their differences. However, Qureshi’s detractors launched a scathing attack on the vice chairman and his close aides leading to a bitter argument between the two sides over the issue of intra-party elections,” said the source, adding that the situation compelled Imran Khan to call for postponement of the polls to contain further damage to the party.
Soon after the meeting, Jahangir Khan Tareen, who had been accused by Qureshi of “buying voters with money and promises to allot party tickets”, announced in a statement that he was detaching himself from the intra-party elections, saying he cannot see divisions in the party.
In a statement, Tareen said he has always supported Imran Khan and his stance. He said that he has never demanded any post in PTI and would never do so in future.
Tareen said he would not participate in intra-party elections and will continue to serve the party like a normal worker. He further appealed to all the members to unite PTI and work together.
On the other hand, PTI’s senior leader from Lahore, Abdul Aleem Khan also disassociated himself from the intra-party elections.
“I am withdrawing myself from Intra Party Election Campaign. I joined PTI on ideology of Imran Khan and not for any party position,” he wrote on his Twitter account.
“I will work for the betterment and unity of PTI as an ordinary party worker,” Aleem added.
Earlier, the PTI Nazriati Group comprising Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Hamid Khan Advocate, Shafqat Mahmood, Dr Yasmin Rashid and Waleed Iqbal had vowed not to let the party become “PTI-Q by bringing political orphans at the helm of affairs in the party”.