FAISALABAD: Turncoats have almost taken over local chapter of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, replacing the old loyalists who had introduced the party in the district responding to Imran Khan’s slogan of “change” some two decades back.
Presently, the party’s local chapter is dominated mostly by former leaders of the PPP, PML-N and PML-Q.
Former senior Punjab minister of the PPP, Raja Riaz Ahmed, is the latest induction in the PTI. He joined the PTI folds after severing his three-decade old ties with the PPP. He is likely to formally announce joining the PTI at its May 20 public meeting scheduled to be held at the Dhobi Ghat ground.
PTI chief Imran Khan will address the gathering to mobilise masses for his campaign against the rulers in the backdrop of Panama leaks issue.
Prominent PML-N leaders who now man PTI’s Faisalabad chapter include the party’s former district secretary general Javed Niaz Manj, ex-MNA Safdar Shakir, ex-MPA Khalid Imtiaz Baloch and former federal minister Raja Nadir Pervez.
Nadir Pervez and his team mates had played a pivotal role in the PTI victory in the by-poll for PP-72 that fell vacant following disqualification of PML-N MPA Khawaja Mohammad Islam on charges of holding a fake degree.
Former MPAs of PPP including Jahanzeb Imtiaz Gill, Faiz Kamoka, Asad Moazzam, Shamsher Wattoo, Khalid Wattoo, retired Maj Abdul Rehman, Waqas Wassi, son of former minister Wasi Zafar and ex-MNA Nisar Akbar are now also in the PTI.
Similarly, PML-Q’s former state minister Asif Tauseef, ex district nazim Zahid Touseef, former city nazim Mumtaz Cheema (brother of former federal minister Mushtaq Cheema), former Madina Town nazim Ali Akhtar (younger brother of former Punjab minister Chaudhary Zahirud Din) and Fawad Cheema had joined the PTI.
Sources in the PTI said the workers were not happy with turncoats gradually “hijacking” the party by replacing those who struggled for introducing it in the district at a time when Imran Khan had few followers.
They said now decisions were being made without taking the loyal party workers into confidence.
The party leaders now only wanted political “heavyweights” with huge bank balance so that they could grab power, completely ignoring the workers who strengthened the party during the last two decades, they added.
Former district president of the PTI, Rana Raheel, told Dawn that Imran Khan had launched the party to overthrow the status quo, but the chairman seemed to have been convinced to employ traditional tactics to gain power.
He said because of this, scores of staunch PTI workers were now criticising their leadership, and wanted it to review its policies.
He said the workers rightly felt that because of such polices the PTI had joined the club of parties like PPP and PML-N who were drifting away from their ideologies.
On the other hand, Shehzad Younis, the PTI’s central media coordinator insisted the PTI was still “doing politics of ideology” and the turncoats could not influence it. “We would welcome anybody who followed the path and vision of Imran Khan,” he said.
“Mr Khan is decision maker in the PTI and people coming from other parties cannot influence him,” he claimed.