The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Jamaat-e-Islami agreed on Sunday to join the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz protest outside Parliament House, however, Imran Khan’s party later backtracked from its decision.
The announcement to support the Nawaz Sharif-led party was made by both the Jamaat and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) separately. However, later in the day PTI Central Secretary Information Shafqat Mehmood denied support for rival PML-N.
“There is no way to shake hands with political parties which we have long declared as the root cause of all evils,” Mehmood said.
“PTI is capable enough to think on its own on such issues and there is no need to follow the line of other parties,” he said.
Mehmood said that PTI wanted free, fair and transparent elections and any step whatsoever needed in this regard would be taken. He also said that Imran Khan’s earlier statement, to join the protest, had been misunderstood.
Sources said that at the party’s strategic committee meeting in Lahore, some senior leaders including Makhdoom Javed Hashmi refused to join PML-N against the government and the PTI chairman had to take back his decision.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is planning to stage a march from the Parliament House to the election commission’s office, announced the party’s Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, who is also the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly. He said on Saturday that they were demanding the empowerment of the election commission.
The Jamaat-e-Islami has also announced its willingness to participate in the PML-N’s protest. The party’s Fareed Paracha told The Express Tribune that they have agreed to join the sit-in to support free and fair elections.
“The PML-N is supporting us in Karachi on the issue of the verification of voter lists and we are joining them on an issue in our mutual interest,” he said.
About a possible electoral alliance, all the detail he could offer was that the Jamaat was in contact with religious parties and the PTI.
The PML-N chose to clarify that it had not asked the parties for their support. Nonetheless, it said it appreciated it.
“It is good for all the political parties to behave unanimously on key national issues,” PML-N spokesperson Mushahidullah Khan said. “[The] first phase is holding general election in a transparent manner through a neutral and independent election commission.”
But one protest does not an ally make. And Mushahidullah gave a neutral answer: saying while such “possibilities cannot be ruled out in politics” it is “premature” to say anything about an alliance with the PTI at this stage.
He said that PML-N will make alliances with the national parties in Sindh and Balochistan, and will encourage Baloch nationalist parties in the election even at the cost of any big political sacrifice for the party.
Sindh’s party joins in
Sindhi nationalist leader Ayaz Palijo said that he would also join PML-N’s sit-in, after receiving an invitation from Nisar Ali Khan.
The chief of Sindh’s Awami Tehreek told Nisar in a telephone call that he supported the stance taken by the PML-N on various issues related to Sindh, including delimitation of constituencies in Karachi and the voter verification drive in the presence of the army.
“In order to guarantee free and fair elections, the ECP should not come under pressure from any political party,” Palijo said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 28th, 2013.