Imran Khan, Esq
Islamabad 25th September 2012
It is with great sadness and disappointment that I am writing to let you know I have been compelled to leave PTI. As you know, when you came to see me at the time you had just formed PTI, I had made a commitment to you that I would join PTI only whenever I was able to join direct politics, especially electoral politics. I totally agreed with your vision for change, especially in the context of foreign policy which has always been a central focus of mine for over 40 years. So it was with absolutely no hesitation that I came to see you in 2008 after the elections PTI boycotted. I joined PTI with no bargaining for any position. All I sought was an assurance that the same ideals, again especially in terms of change and foreign policy, still prevailed.
I worked for the Party and tried to help any way I could – be it with Omar Cheema in the media or with the administration of the Islamabad office as well as formulating an alternate viable foreign policy narrative for the Party. The most encouraging and vital aspect of PTI at the time was the driving sense everyone had that we were going to be the harbingers of change not only in terms of nationalist policies for Pakistan but also in a new egalitarian non-elitist political culture. In fact this egalitarianism prevailed throughout the party beginning with yourself, which allowed for a truly democratic interaction in the Party.
In addition, your appeal of change was your own style of politics where you reached out directly to the masses of the electorate. It may have taken a long time but the Lahore 2011 jalsa was the game changer for Pakistan’s electoral politics. Unfortunately after the Lahore Oct 2011 jalsa, after which you, like ZA Bhutto, could have built up your party’s existing leadership including the large group of middle class and professional followers you had into potential “electables” who would directly interact with the people, you chose to open the floodgates for old traditional “electables”.
So, after trying to accept the new PTI realities for some time, I feel in all honesty I cannot go along with this post-Lahore PTI for the following reasons:
This shift in moving from directly reaching out to the electorate to using intermediaries – the so-called “electables” – between the people and yourself has gradually turned the PTI into a traditional political party with all the excess baggage that that connotes. No doubt some of these “electables” are indeed financially clean, but to effectively hand them control of the Party was unwarranted. After all if they were so skilled and committed to principles then why were they unable to formulate policies to improve the country? Most had been Party hopping and had occupied public offices for substantive time periods yet they represented no stream of change or an alternative narrative to the status quo. The energy policy of PTI reflects this status quo mindset as does the economic policy which is effectively purely a fiscal policy set to please the IMF! A whole critique can be made of the economic policy but the main point is that it has no relief for the common man, including a total absence of any reduction in utility rates. It is strange that while you have been critiquing GST and indirect taxation consistently and correctly, the PTI economic policy has done a total reversal on this position – reflective of the policy shifts being made in PTI.
A new culture of money has sprung up with big money taking over Party programmes. The plane and helicopter dependency is one reflection of this but so are other disturbing happenings like the donation of Rs 50 lakhs by one individual to some ISF leaders directly – ostensibly for aiding the membership drive – instead of it going via the Party account.
The membership drive itself through membership booklets has some serious questions hanging over it and I did try to raise these in the PSC meeting on the issue but to no avail. I still maintain that by selling the booklets we allowed the rich members to purchase huge amounts of the booklets and then make their members with no check on whether these books were being filled simply to build up local support for the intra party elections at Union and District levels or whether the members being enlisted were genuinely believers and supporters of PTI! Also rumours abound about motorbikes and other gifts being given by the big money players to people who managed to make a certain number of members. In other words, the intra-Party elections are not going to be held on a level playing field by any yardstick!
The reality is that today PTI has been effectively taken over by traditional politicians reflecting big money and/or feudal “sardars”. As if that is not disappointing enough, retired civil and military bureaucrats have also found senior niches in the Party. Tragically none of these new entrants can bring about the change which PTI had been promising.
To make matters worse, our think tanks which contain some of the most senior technocrats have been totally ignored in policy making despite some very competent people being present there like Mr Pervez Butt who headed our PAEC for many years. All these competent people have been either totally ignored or treated with utter disdain by the big money players.
As for the incident in Rajanpur, I maintain my position that you could have driven the one hour distance from DG Khan to Rajanpur and I had offered Mr Tareen for your group to stay overnight at my village if you could not make it to Mr Tareen’s farm in Lodhran. The next day you had to go to Sindh and my village was much closer and Mr Tareen has an airstrip next door in Jamaldinwali so his plane could have come to pick your party up. That I made the critical speech before our people in Rajanpur was necessary as I felt their pain – since they had waited from 11 am right uptil 4 45 pm! Many were flood affectees and to simply suggest that they should be reassembled from across the district the next day was not possible.
Sadly, instead of resolving the issue amicably, your social media and their “trolls” chose to use filthy abuses against my daughter which compelled her to leave the party; and you chose to adopt a vengeful posture by serving me with a show cause notice and then sending a message that I should make a public apology and retract my statement. Since I maintain I did nothing wrong and since there was nothing incorrect in my statement about the takeover of the Party, I will not dignify the show cause notice with a response – especially since the points cited in it also happen to be factually incorrect.
I have never doubted your integrity or commitment but unfortunately you are being overwhelmed by those who have never had an ideology in all the years they were in politics or the bureaucracy. It is not enough to simply have faith in you because a Party is defined by more than one man – it is defined by its collective leadership.
I hope that we are not reduced to abuse and name calling on the social media again as it will not do anyone any good. I do not want to reduce myself to personal attacks and we refrained from such filth even when my daughter was being subjected to filthy abuse. But there are limits to everyone’s patience.
If PTI really does choose to revert to directly relating to the masses, its original character and ideology of change and justice, I will be there to serve the Party in any way I can. For me coming into electoral politics through PTI was simply to affect national agendas in a way that qualitatively changes Pakistan for the better. Sadly, the commitment to change, that made us all in PTI develop a comradeship and bond that was unique, is withering away fast in all but name. So it is with a heavy heart that I leave PTI knowing that the only change PTI has brought has been in yourself and the nature of the collective leadership.
Shireen M Mazari