Desperate for support from any of the mainstream political parties for its Azadi March on August 14, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is likely to initiate on Monday a drive to establish contacts with leaders from across the political spectrum.
Sources told Dawn that a delegation headed by PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi would meet Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) chief Sirajul Haq in an effort to induce the party to join the Independence Day demonstration, which now bears all the hallmarks of an extended sit-in. The meeting, the sources said, would take place at the residence of JI’s central vice president and former MNA, Mian Muhammad Aslam, shortly after Mr Haq launches his party’s ‘Awami Agenda’ — a new outlook for the party’s future – at a hotel in the capital.
PTI Punjab President Ijaz Chaudhry and some Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ministers are expected to accompany Mr Qureshi, who also plans to contact other political parties, including the main opposition Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), over the next few days. Despite being a coalition partner in KP, the JI leadership has so far kept itself at a safe distance from the PTI’s politics of agitation. JI leaders, on a number of occasions, have said that they would not become part of any movement that could put the whole democratic system at risk. The JI has also opposed the PTI’s reported plan to dissolve the KP Assembly as a mark of protest.
JI’s Media Coordinator Shahid Shamsi told Dawn that the PTI had not consulted them before announcing its plan to march on Islamabad, nor had they discussed its conversion into an indefinite sit-in. But, Mr Shamsi said the party would welcome PTI leaders and give them a patient hearing. The JI, he said, would announce its final decision only after hearing from PTI leaders what their actual agenda and programme were. “But one thing is clear. The JI will not become a part of any unconstitutional move,” he added.
On the other hand, Mr Qureshi told Dawn that his party would invite every democratic force to join the march. He said the time had come also for the PPP to take a decision on where they stand. “We will ask the PPP to tell us clearly whether it is an opposition party or a government ally,” he said. The PTI leader said the party would take advantage of the forthcoming National Assembly session to contact other parties and also register its protest over the government’s decision to summon the army in Islamabad under Article 245 of the Constitution. -dawn