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December 31, 2018

2018 proved most successful for PTI


December 31, 2018

LAHORE : In its over two decades long history, 2018 proved the most successful year for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf when not only the party founder Imran Khan took oath as Prime Minister but PTI formed government in three provinces, including Punjab.

The much awaited moment for Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician who laid foundation of a party in 1996 with the agenda of breaking status quo and delivering justice to the nation came in August when he was sworn in as the PM of the country following the victory of his party in July 2018 general elections.

In all the 12 months of 2018, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf showed a better success record than the past year, though the allegation of being the ‘Kings Party’ has constantly being levelled against it by the mainstream Opposition parties like PML-N and PPP which have accused the PTI government of carrying out political victimisation.

Nevertheless, rejecting the allegations of Opposition, the PTI stalwart believes that there is a no-tolerance policy against corruption and country is on road to progress under the leadership of Imran Khan. The year 2018 is significant for Imran Khan, both as personal and political level.

The year started with the news of Imran Khan’s third marriage with Bushra Maneka, former wife of a bureaucrat from Pakpattan in simple ceremony. Imran Khan confirmed the news related to his this marriage a few days later.

Imran Khan’s political career also witnessed new heights in 2018.

By the mid of 2018 while PML-N was completing its five-year constitutional term, a massive exodus started in ranks and many noted political groups from Southern Punjab opted to join Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf as a secure platform. First major success PTI had attained early this year was the merger of a group named ‘Junoobi Punjab Mahaz’ a group led by predominantly those who had quit PML-N while enjoying full stint in power for five years, between 2013-2018.

The members of this group included Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, his brother Hashim Jawan Bakht, the group of Sardar Fateh Muhammad Buzdar, who is father of sitting Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar, the group led by Makhdoom Basit Sultan Bukhari. Besides, the group of Sardar Nasarullah Dareshak, which was already close to PTI in last five years also merged with PTI due to successful lobbying of central party leader Jehangir Khan Tareen.

Another noted group of Rajanpur District led by former caretaker Prime Minister Mir Balkh Sher Mazari that sided with PPP for years joined Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Noted group of Dera Ghazi Khan District led by Sardar Zulfiqar Ali Khan Khosa as well as the one from Rajanpur-cum-DG Khan Sardar Jaffer Khan Leghari also joined Imran Khan’s bandwagon.

Many former provincial ministers, MNAs, MPAs from Southern and Central Part of Punjab, including Chaudhry Zaheer-ud-Din of PML-Q, Nadim Afzal Chan of PPP, Shaukat Laleka of PML-N and many others joined Tehreek-e-Insaf just a few months before the July 2018 elections.

In the July 2018 elections, PML-N and PPP, both parties gave tough time to PTI in Punjab and Sindh respectively.

Tehreek-e-Insaf, with the help of nearly 30 independent MPAs was able to form government in Punjab but Peoples Party survived in Sindh once again.

In Punjab, PTI made a clean sweep in many Southern Punjab districts, either through its ticket holders or later on the basis of the strength it garnered through the independent MPAs of Punjab, most of whom were seen travelling in Jehangir Tareen’s jet before joining Tehreek-e-Insaf. In the districts of Southern Punjab, including Multan, Lodhran, Khanewal, Layyah, Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, majority of PTI ticket holders emerged victorious with big margins whereas on most of the seats, the PPP, PML-N ticket holders faced defeat. The PPPP won three National Assembly seats from Muzaffargarh and a couple of more seats from Rahimyar Khan whereas PML-N, the party which was single largest party of Punjab in 2013 lost its control from most of the Southern Punjab district. Nevertheless, its candidates won from a good number of seats in form Muhammad Khan Daha, Iftikhar Nazir, Alamdad Laleka, Sajid Mehdi Nasim, Najib-ud-Din Awaisi and Mian Riaz Pirzada. In Central Punjab districts like Lahore, Gujranwala, Sialkot, Sheikhupura, PML-N showed its dominance again and most of the PTI candidates suffered defeat. In Lahore, however, PTI defeated PML-N on four National Assembly and eight Punjab Assembly seats but in districts of Faisalabad, Rawalpindi, Jhelum, PML-N suffered almost a white was situation in the hands of Tehreek-e-Insaf. The PPP won only two seats, including one National Assembly that was clinched by Raja Pervaiz Ashraf from Gujjer Khan, Rawalpindi and other, a Punjab Assembly seat won by Syed Hassan Murtaza from Chiniot.

However, where PTI created history in 2018 general elections was the defeat of heads of mainstream political parties, including PML-N and PPP. Shahbaz Sharif, the PML-N president suffered defeat and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari suffered defeat in the hands of the PTI candidates.

The greatest upsets were seen in the soil of Karachi where Shakoor Shad, the PTI candidate defeated PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari from NA-246, the seat that covers Lyari, once the Peoples Party stronghold whereas Faisal Vawda, a debutant contesting on PTI ticket defeated PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif. Shahbaz also lost to Muhammad Khan Leghari from Dera Ghazi Khan.

After the 2018 general elections, first major breakthrough PTI had was snatching Punjab from PML-N. Almost all the independent candidates except Ahmed Ali Aulakh, Jugnoo Mohsin announced joining PTI and a party which had 123 general seats in Punjab Assembly, reached the figure of 186 with the help of reserved seats, independents and PML-Q, a party with 10 MPAs in Punjab.

The noted independent MPAs who joined PTI included former Provincial Minister Saeed ul Hassan Rizvi, former PML-Q MPA Faisal Jaboana, Sardar Khurrem Leghari, who is son of former PPP MPA Sardar Chunnu Khan Leghari, and nearly two dozen more.

The historic moment came for PTI in Punjab in mid of August when Usman Buzdar, who won the first general election of his life was made Punjab Chief Minister. Though this decision surprised many, yet Buzdar became the first Non Muslim Leaguer since 1977 to take oath as Punjab CM. Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, who was also dubbed as a strong candidate in the race of CM Punjab was however made Speaker of Punjab Assembly.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, PTI won the polls with a thumping majority and Mehmood Khan, the party candidate took oath as the Chief Minister. In Balochistan, Jam Kamal of Balochistan Awam Party, with the help of PTI as the ally took oath as the CM and in Sindh, PTI became the second largest party after PPP and has its Opposition leader now in a province where PML-F, MQM had mostly shown strong numerical strength in Sindh Assembly after PPP.

First 100 days: Failure and success

Often dubbed as the ‘party of clean’ PTI government underwent real criticism from opponents in its first 100 days which have been completed recently. The first criticism the PTI government faced in Punjab was the interference of the political leadership in the affairs related to bureaucracy. First such precedent that came to surface was related none other than Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar himself when he was accused of using his influence over police hierarchy in the transfer of a DPO. However, the government had to step back when judiciary intervened. Later, some examples also came to surface in which elected MNAs, MPAs were accused of misusing their authorities and using influence over bureaucracy.

Criticism and question marks increased towards PTI over the sudden resignation of Nasir Durrani, the head of Punjab Police Reforms Commission and the main reason behind this development was dubbed as the annoyance of Punjab ministers towards Durrani who wanted Punjab Police free of political influence. The PTI chairman before the elections had promised to liberate police from political influence and pressures but after coming to power, the party couldn’t implement this plan in Punjab as a result of which, Nasir Durrani quit the post.

Besides, in Punjab, the PTI government was also criticised by the opponents for not honouring its commitments.

The bulky cabinet of CM Usman Buzdar which included nearly 45 ministers, advisers, special assistants also invited criticism on the austerity claims of PTI but the party stalwarts claim that the government is strictly honouring its commitments. After coming to power, the PTI government launched an operation against land mafia and by the end of its 100 days, it claimed that state land worth billions of rupees has been recovered in the province. On the other hand, the opponents termed it an act of victimisation.

The PTI government also came under immense criticism from public over its failure in providing an immediate relief to the people and control price-hike. Since the PTI government took over, inflation came as a big challenge to it which it wasn’t able to control and in Punjab, the reaction of people was also visible in the by-polls. On the soil of Punjab, PTI lost number of seats in by-elections, including the one won by party Chairman Imran Khan in Lahore in general elections.

It lost its seats from Attock, Jhelum, Lahore and Multan.

At the central level, Imran Khan, the Prime Minister had a challenging time on the economic front and his critics, in and out of Parliament was seen reminding him of his pre-poll commitments. Imran Khan was first criticised for its IMF Policy after he hinted at moving to the international body for economic relief. This was totally against the pre-poll stance of PTI and the government came under vehement criticism from different corners.

The situation of stock exchange, increasing petroleum prices, situation of Pakistani Rupee against US Dollar became key reasons of criticism on Imran Khan’s government for its inability to address these issues. The visits of Imran Khan to China, UAE and Malaysia were dubbed as a major success by the PTI supporters whereas the Opposition showed a totally different view. At the diplomatic front, the ground breaking of Kartarpur corridor was also termed a major breakthrough and a success of Pakistan at the diplomatic front. The corridor ground-breaking ceremony was held on November 28 at the Kartarpur Border, District Sialkot and was attended by PM, Chief of the Army Staff, Indian politicians like Navjot Singh Sadhu, Harsmirat Kaur Badal and others. Imran on the occasion urged India to learn from the European nations like Germany and France while stressing over trade, other measures meant to provide relief to the people of both sides.

Imran Khan government also came under immense criticism from PML-N and PPP for targeting the political rivals. In the same era, the first major development was related to the arrest of Opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif by NAB over Ashiana Housing scheme scam whereas PPP leadership was also seen facing several cases of corruption reopening against them.

Imran Khan while addressing the ceremony related to first 100 days performance of PTI in Lahore had stated that there would be no compromise on the process of accountability. On the other hand, the leaders from Opposition believe that Imran was targeting rivals in the name of accountability.

Jehangir Khan Tareen: Former Secretary General

Jehangir Khan Tareen, the PTI’s central leader who played a key role in wooing the independent candidates and bringing noted influential groups of Southern Punjab to PTI folds while talking to The News said that Imran Khan’s 22-year long struggle paid off in 2018. He said with the help people’s power, PTI inflicted defeat to powerful mafias and the success PTI achieved in Punjab was once unimaginable.

He said credible and clean people joined PTI in 2018 which strengthened its roots and in the coming time as well party would continue its winning streak.

Faisal Vawda defeated Shahbaz Sharif from NA-249

Talking to The News, Federal Minister for Water Resources Faisal Vawda said PTI proved its ballot power in 2018 general elections and emerged as a real phenomenon of change. He said PTI had a zero-tolerance towards corruption and the team of Imran Khan was all-out to deliver to the masses. Vawda stated that he emerged victorious from Karachi against Shahbaz Sharif whereas before the polls, while he was neither the minister nor any office bearer, he brought to surface the proofs of misdeeds of Altaf Hussein and corruption of Nawaz Sharif. He added as a team member of Imran Khan, he was part of struggle with him and under his vision. He said as the member of Imran Khan’s cabinet, he had initiated six decades long pending issues of his ministry within 70 days.

Faisal went on to say that under the leadership of Imran Khan, the country was on the track of success, foreign investment was coming to Pakistan, action had been initiated against any corrupt element, whether he belongs to Karachi or Punjab. Responding to the criticism of Opposition on Imran, he said it was the zero- tolerance policy of Imran which had frustrated his rivals. He said in past, these forces remained busy in criticising our institutions like army, judiciary whereas PTI always held these intuitions in great esteem.

Shakoor Shad defeated Bilawal from Lyari

Shakoor Shad, the PTI MNA elected from NA-246, Karachi and rose to fame while inflicting defeat to PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari while talking to The News stated that it was Imran Khan’s visionary leadership that attracted youths of Lyari, a town where PPP had never suffered defeat before 2018 in any NA contest.

Shakoor Shad said that Lyari, which was once the bastion of PPP rejected it in 2018 just because the policy of its leadership. He said the people of Lyari saw a ray of hope in Imran Khan and under his leadership, the country was moving forward now in the right direction.

Opposition rejects PTI claims

Members of the Opposition parties have rejected the claims of prosperity, progress, good governance and merit by PTI government and held it responsible for prevailing crisis in the country.

Senator Salim Zia, the PML-N leader from Sindh while talking to The News said the PTI government had greatly disappointed people of the country and it completely forgot its per-poll promises. He said neither the government honoured its commitment of steering the country out of crises nor it was able to fulfil the promises it made with the nation like not moving to the IMF and controlling the inflation. He said the PTI government instead had worsened the situation of the country and it was relying on figures like Usman Buzdar to run Punjab who has no comparison with Shahbaz Sharif under whom Punjab witnessed remarkable development.

Besides, he said the PTI government had completely ignored Karachi whose situation was quite normal in the era of PML-N.

Murtaza Wahab, the PPP stalwart from Sindh while talking to The News said that the only achievement Imran Khan has made this year was to wear ‘Sherwani’ to take oath as Prime Minister. He said other than this, PTI government was a total failure, whether it was the issue related to governance or bringing any change to the country. He said instead, this government, which lacked acceptance in public and was brought to power was now bent upon hijacking the public mandate in Sindh. Murtaza Wahab said that the PTI government seriously lacked vision to run the country.

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