May 9: A Year On, Defiant PTI Looks For The Negotiation Table

PTI looks to Imran Khan for future course of action but stance on a deal is clear. All fake cases against their leadership should be thrown out, and Imran should be released from prison

May 9: A Year On, Defiant PTI Looks For The Negotiation Table

A year on from the incidents of May 9, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) finds itself as a political pariah. While it has the most directly elected members in the national assembly and swept elections to form a government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, its top leadership remains incarcerated or on the run. The era of securing instant relief from the courts and being greeted with "good to see you" in the courtrooms is long over despite a recent relief.

Its leaders, those still able to make public appearances or have returned to Parliament, continue to strike a defiant tone. Indeed, the party's founder leads from the front on that end from inside his jail cell, the party is struggling to secure what it claims is its true mandate, secure the release of its top leadership and quell the discontent and bickering within its deeply fractured ranks.

According to the party, the 'egotiation' is only possible once true democracy is restored in the country. Party leaders are resolute that they will no longer compromise over their suppression, whether inside or outside the Parliament, and that their rightful mandate, as voted by the public, should be given to them.

PTI's leaders expressed these views as they geared up to hold a Million Man march on May 9.

The bickering in the party is obvious. With the top leadership incarcerated and access quite limited, members often wonder whether the leadership's message is being accurately conveyed, some party members said. Others have taken advantage of the vacuum in leadership to champion broadly aligning causes but, in their exuberance, skidded off on a tangent.

Talking to The Friday Times, former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser said that their party's mandate was stolen, which would damage the system. 

"There is no democratic system in the country. How can we sit silently," Qaiser asked, adding that they have to move to restore real democracy in the country.

The former NA speaker said they were waiting for the top-tier leadership to provide a future course of action.

Regarding the party's next move on May 9, the senior PTI leader said they would follow the directions of former prime minister and PTI founder Imran Khan.

"He (Imran Khan) will decide our future course of action as to how we should proceed. We do not want unrest in the country but the true implementation of the Constitution," he said.

When asked about the possibility of a deal with the establishment, he said that PTI's stance is clear. All fake cases against their leadership should be thrown out, and the former prime minister should be released from jail.

Responding to a question about his statement that he would not allow anyone to run the Parliament in the current situation, he said the right of peaceful protest should not be snatched from political parties. 

"They have the right to protest and will register their protest," he maintained.

When contacted, PTI's legal brain Shoaib Shaheen said that the party has the right to register peaceful protests in the country over the injustices meted out to it.

He reiterated that cases lodged against party founder and former prime minister Imran Khan have no foundation in fact but were politically motivated as a vendetta. Shaheen said that the party's true mandate should be given to the PTI, adding that since they had won a majority of seats, it was their right to rule.

To a question, he said that the party would definitely raise concerns against any planned move to extend the tenure of Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faiz Isa.

Other party members, desiring not to be named for fear of retribution, said that the party will keep raising their voices about how their mandate was stolen. They added that the party intends to disclose its future course of action on May 9.

Party members were tight-lipped about fractures developing within the party. But the party's actions have spoken loudly about the deepening divisions. It recently decided to replace Sher Afzal Marwat with Sheikh Waqas Akram as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Political pundits believe this abrupt change in nomination may further fuel conflict in the party. They pointed out that for some reason, the post of PAC chairman remains problematic for the PTI.