Workers of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) have reacted sharply to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision of dissolving the party’s organisational structure and expressed concern over the appointment of federal minister as new party officials whom they believe are the root cause of the debacle in the recent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa local government elections.
On the other hand, a federal minister defended the decision and said the prime minister has introduced the new structure to re-organise and reactivate the party so that active contact could be established with workers and voters at the grassroots. He further said the party model had also been changed.
PM Imran, who is also the PTI chairman, has appointed Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Minister Asad Umar as the party’s central secretary general, former federal minister Amir Mahmood Kiyani as the additional secretary general, Education Minister Shafqat Mahmood as the Punjab president, Industries and Production Minister Khusro Bakhtiar as the south Punjab president, Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak as the KP president, Maritime Affairs Minister Ali Zaidi as Sindh president and National Assembly Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri as the Balochistan president.
Maintaining that only those who faltered should have been punished rather than putting everyone in the dock, party leaders say it was high time that their morale was boosted. “We are unable to understand the wisdom behind dissolving party organisations across the country by a high-powered core committee headed by party chairman Imran Khan,” a disgruntled party leader in Punjab said.
Expressing fears over the decision, senior party leaders in Punjab were of the view that the PTI could face major challenges ahead of the upcoming local government elections and eventually the general elections and dissolving functional systems would not help the party.
“The party lost LG elections in KP because of the government’s failure to ensure clean governance and the mismanagement at the hands of top parliamentarians, who helped their favourites get tickets. But instead, the party organisers have been punished,” another senior leader lamented.
Reacting to the appointment of federal ministers as party heads in the Centre and provinces, a PTI leader claimed these ministers had failed to justify their performance in their respective domains and had now been assigned additional duties.
“The government functionaries have assumed political responsibilities too and apparently all issues will be resolved now,” a senior leader taunted. “Government functionaries were responsible for poor governance, but it’s the political workers who have been removed from their leadership roles with a stroke of a pen.”
A founding member, who did not have a leadership role in the party, said the PTI comprised millions of members, but surprisingly some workers had been given multiple assignments.
Reacting to the appointment of Shafqat Mahmood as the PTI Punjab president, a provincial leader said the party had lost the previous local government elections under the leadership of the education minister.
When contacted, Mahmood said the premier had created the new formation to re-organise and reactivate the party at grassroots. “We are here to reorganise the party to meet the future electoral challenges,” he said.
The party, he said, would be re-organised at the district, tehsil and union council levels and involve all those active members who were earlier ignored. Mahmood said the premier had changed the party model as well, as earlier there was no provincial president here, while now he had been appointed as the PTI’s Punjab president and Khusro Bakhtiar as the south Punjab head.
“This kind of change will also be seen in the party’s reorganisation,” he added.
To another question about him heading the PTI in Lahore when the party lost the LG elections, Mahmood said, “There is a great difference between 2015 and 2021.” He claimed to have organised the party in Lahore very well and given tickets to candidates fairly.
When contacted, Punjab government spokesman Hasaan Khawar said PM Khan had taken the decision of dissolving the party organisations to bring discipline and solving teething issues. There was a serious discussion in the party’s core committee on the issue and the decision was based on collective wisdom. “The already serving party leaders may get their slots back after review of the organisation,” he maintained.