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Will IK be released any time soon?



Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
In an interview with a national TV channel, Mr. Rauf Hassan disclosed several key aspects of PTI’s policies and decisions on pressing issues. These included the party’s stance on bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, their approach to the six judges’ charge sheet against the executive and intelligence agencies, their policy towards JUI, the return of the election symbol of PTI, the reintegration of deserted party members, the party’s perspective on internal divisions within PML(N), and the efforts to improve relations between PTI and the influential establishment.

I know Mr. Rauf Hassan from the date of his appointment as Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for the Ministry of Information. As Joint Secretary, I received and ushered him to his office. Though he was not very popular amongst the PTI’s political leadership of that time, following the removal of many frontline leaders after the crackdown on the party, he virtually emerged as PTI’s primary spokesperson, particularly in handling complex and challenging decisions.

While reacting to Sheer Jan Marwat’s statement on Saudi Arabia, he said that Mr. Imran Khan, was shocked to hear the unwarranted and obnoxious comments and narrated many instances where Saudi Arabia had rescued Pakistan from difficult financial, economic, and diplomatic situations. He advised the PTI’s core committee to meet with the Saudi Ambassador and explain to him the party’s stated position, emphasizing that the PTI greatly values the bilateral, fraternal, and brotherly relations with Saudi Arabia and that PTI had no intention to derail Saudi Arabia’s investment commitment in Pakistan.

He said that currently, a status quo exists between PTI and the Establishment and relations are icey without any sign of melting, and effectively poured cold water on assumption of IK’s release any time soon. He said after the Chairman’s arrest, there was great pressure on him to leave the country, and as soon as the conditions were made favorable, he would be called back. However, the chairman refused to succumb to any pressure whatsoever. He emphasized that the army, an important and vital institution of the country, already has its plate full owing to external and internal security and safety threats. Therefore, they should focus on their core functions and leave politics to the politicians and the people of Pakistan, who are the final authority to accept or reject any political leader. Mr. Rauf Hassan, however, said that the establishment would have to enter into negotiations with the Chairman, as currently, he is the only legitimate and genuine leader in the country.

While discussing the possibility of rapprochement with the JUI, he mentioned that within PTI there are two factions: one headed by Mr. Asad Qaiser in favor, and the rest of the party against such a proposal. He said that the history of animosity between JUI and PTI is very bitter, and it would perhaps take much more time and effort to mend fences and develop a consensus on relevant issues confronted by the nation.

Regarding the decision to take back party leaders who had deserted the party under immense pressure from the establishment, he clarified that the party is well aware about the hardships they had faced and therefore had made a clear distinction between those who left the party, gave derogatory statements against it, and joined other parties, and those who, though left the party, neither gave statements against the party nor joined another party. When specifically asked about Mr. Fawad Hussain, he categorically said that he falls in the first group while Malika Bukhari and Shireen Mazari fall in the second group.

In the matter of the Election Symbol, he said that intra party elections were conducted exactly in accordance with the law, results were submitted to the Election Commission who after examination accepted the result. However, since then, PTI has held two more meetings and will approach the Election Commission for the fourth time. He expressed doubt that PTI would not get back the election symbol until all by-elections are complete and there would be no need to continue depriving the party of its election symbol.

Regarding Mian Nawaz Sharif’s decision to become a party to the Supreme Court’s suo moto proceedings on six judges’ letters, he said that in principle, PTI would stay away from any proceedings as it believes that the judiciary, as a pillar of the state, should be able to resolve the matter amongst themselves, and any outside interference or indulgence would be counterproductive. He added that without a strong, independent, free, and fair judiciary, the state cannot function properly, as is the case in Pakistan currently. He mentioned that the helplessness, unfairness, and biasness of the judiciary were admitted by none other than the judges themselves, and this is the reason the state structure in Pakistan has crumbled. He advised the judiciary to reclaim its lost space as quickly as possible to put the country back on the path of progress and development.

Referring to the internal division within PML(N), he said that, according to credible information the house of PML(N) and the family of Mian Nawaz Sharif have clearly been divided into Nawaz and shahbaz groups. Nawaz Sharif’s group believes that Shahbaz, in connivance with the Establishment, has betrayed Nawaz Sharif and effectively destroyed his political career. He said that the conflict between the two factions simmering within the family and close circles of PML(N) will soon escalate to the national level, and many deals that were made underhand by both factions of the PML(N) will wreak havoc on the entire party and its followers.

However, despite many policies of the PTI being unveiled, many burning questions remain. When and how will the Chairman of PTI’s ordeal finally end? Will he be breathing in fresh air any time soon? Without Imran Khan, will the movement kick started by the PTI and its allied parties in Balochistan, demanding the reissuance of election results on the basis of form 45 gain enough momentum to pose credible pressure on the government and the establishment to either reissue the election results, or decide to conduct fresh elections? Questions also remain about how the incumbent government of PMM(N) will deliver and survive when stalwarts of its own party are withdrawing their support, alleging that even in PML(N), picking and choosing was exercised to select certain candidates and reject others. Another question is how strongly and how soon Nawaz Sharif will commence opposition to the government of his own brother.

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