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September 9, 2014

Striking similarities between PTI and Tehrik-e-Istiqlal

September 9, 2014

ABBOTTABAD: Is Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) going to meet the same fate that once the second most popular political party Tehrik-e-Istiqlal (TI) met in mid 1980s?
This is the topic now being discussed in political circles of Hazara with much interest.Interestingly, while going through their political history, one finds many similarities between the PTI and TI.
These parties were launched by two important personalities with the slogans to change the status quo, bring about equality and justice and offer an alternative to the main political parties.
The Abbottabad-based Air Marshall (Retd) Muhammad Asghar Khan founded the Tehrik-e-Istiqlal in 1970. A decorated Pakistan Air Force officer and a fierce critic of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Asghar Khan attracted many budding and mid-career politicians to join his party. By 1977, TI had in its ranks political figures like Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti, Mian Nawaz Sharif, Aitzaz Ahsan, Gohar Ayub Khan, Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, Manzoor Wattoo, Javed Hashmi, Begum Mehnaz Rafi, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Syed Fakhar Imam, Abida Hussain, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, Nisar Khuro, Raja Nadir Pervaiz and many others
Asghar Khan’s TI was the major component of the nine-party political conglomerate Pakistan National Alliance (PNA) that rejected the results of 1977 general election. The PNA-led movement forced Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to agree to hold fresh elections but Gen Ziaul Haq imposed martial law before the final agreement between Bhutto and PNA leaders could be thrashed out.
The star-studded TI headed by the charismatic Asghar Khan was all set to win the 1979 general election, which was later postponed by Gen Ziaul Haq. All the politicians who had joined hands with Asghar Khan started deserting him once they saw little or no future of TI in politics.
“It was the principled stand of Air Marshal sahib on various issues that was considered rigid by many of his erstwhile comrades. Asghar Khan was indirectly

responsible for the martial law by making provocative speeches against Zulfikar Ali Bhutto at public gatherings,” commented one of the founding members of TI.
“He said on record that he would hang Bhutto from Kohala Bridge once he came to power. All that was for public consumption but end result was disastrous for the country and his political party,” he added.
Asghar Khan remained under house arrest during most of Gen Zia’s rule. He joined Movement for Restoration of Democracy (MRD) in 1983. Eventually he merged his party with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in January 2012. This was the political demise of a party that was once popular with a countrywide presence.
Cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan founded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 1996. It didn’t get encouraging response from political figures in its early days but after the mammoth public meeting at Minar-e-Pakistan in October 2011 politicians of all hue and shade started flocking to his party in search of greener postures. The PTI did well to win 30 odd seats of the National Assembly and won enough provincial assembly seats to form its government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
It seems history is once again repeating itself. Imran Khan also led a long march and sit-in against the alleged rigging in the 2013 general election. He has been endlessly criticising Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other politicians.
Like Asghar Khan, Imran Khan also uses harsh and sometimes derogatory language against his political rivals, surely for public consumption. According to political observers, he is oblivious of the consequences for the country and his own political party due to his obstinacy.
Many PTI parliamentarians are already unhappy with Imran over his decision to resign from the National Assembly and the provincial assemblies in Punjab and Sindh. In private conversations they admit that they are fed up with Imran Khan’s inflexible and extreme stance on the issue of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation.
The PTI president Javed Hashmi has already quit the PTI after making some disclosures that embarrassed Imran. Certain political observers believe if Imran remains adamant and refuses to listen to the sane voices in the party, the PTI’s fate would not be the different from Asghar Khan’s TI.

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