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Another U-turn? PTI forms committee for 'political engagement' with rivals

Another U-turn? PTI forms committee for ‘political engagement’ with rivals

طوبیٰ Tooba 8 months ago 0 5

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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan speaks during an interview with AFP at his residence in Lahore on March 15, 2023. — AFP
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan speaks during an interview with AFP at his residence in Lahore on March 15, 2023. — AFP
  • PTI forms five-member “political engagement committee”.
  • Earlier, party delegation met JUI-F’s Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
  • Pol parties forging new alliance ahead of February 8 polls.

ISLAMABAD: With political parties gearing up for the general elections, in a rare move the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Wednesday announced the formation of a “political engagement committee” for reaching out to rival parties ahead of the upcoming polls.

The five-member committee includes Senator Ali Zafar, Senator Dr Humayun Mohmand, Ali Muhammad Khan, Ali Asghar Khan and Raoof Hasan, read the party notification shared on its official X account, formerly known as Twitter.

The development comes days after the former ruling party’s announcement to contest general elections from “all constituencies” at both provincial and national levels.

The Imran Khan-led party has traditionally taken a hardline stance against political opponents most notably the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) and others accusing the lot of corruption and looting the country.

The PTI’s move to decide to reach out to political parties comes as past opponents are becoming future allies with political parties leaving their old enmities behind and striving to forge new political alliances to strengthen their position ahead of the general elections scheduled to be held on February 8 next year.

A day earlier, the PML-N and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) announced to “jointly contest” the upcoming polls.

The move came after an MQM-P delegation led by Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Farooq Sattar and Syed Mustafa Kamal met PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif in Lahore at the party’s Model Town secretariat.

Last month, the PTI — after securing a “go-ahead” from its incarcerated party chief Imran Khan — also reached out to one of its staunch political opponents JUI-F Chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman.

A PTI delegation led by former national assembly speaker Asad Qaiser and comprising Ali Muhammad Khan, Barrister Saif, and Junaid Akbar met the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) chief at his Islamabad residence.

The meeting took place after Fazl had agreed to play a leading role in “national reconciliation” in a bid to bring political stability to the country.

Although Qasier said that the party delegation met Maulana Fazl to offer condolences over the Bajaur incident — the suicide blast at JUI-F’s workers’ convention that killed more than 40 in July — the hour-long meeting was in fact political in nature and involved discussion pertaining to the political situation in the country, the sources said.

Over the past few weeks, Khan’s party has shown signs showing the softening of its once hardline stance against political opponents.

The party has praised PPP’s statements about a “level-playing field” and not accepting “minus-PTI results”.

“It must be kept in mind that minus the PTI, the results of elections will not be acceptable to anyone,” PPP Punjab acting president Rana Farooq said in a statement.

It is pertinent to mention here that last week, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court, announced that general elections would be held on February 8, 2024 — ending months of ambiguity surrounding the poll date.

The top electoral body announced the election date after consulting with President Arif Alvi on the apex court’s CJP Isa-led three-member bench’s directions given while hearing multiple pleas seeking timely elections within 90 days.

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