Jahangir Tareen And The Illusion Of Stability

Jahangir Tareen And The Illusion Of Stability
After a fair share of ups and down and through thick and thin, Jahangir Khan Tareen is seemingly returning to politics with a whimper, saving the big bang for later. But will he be able to connect the embittered and wayward politicians approaching him in droves to form a strong party that may steer the country out of the current crisis? With his experience, wealth and friends in the right places, can he be trusted this time?

He is emerging as a quintessential maker and breaker of politics. Tareen’s proposed party, that is presently a coterie of disgruntled Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf lawmakers, already has a name – Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP). Among the latest entrants are Fawad Chaudhry, Amir Kiyani, Ali Zaidi, Imran Ismail, Mahmood Maulvi, Ajmal Wazir, Nauraiz Shakoor, Fayyazul Hasan Chohan, and Firdous Ashiq Awan.

Former education minister Punjab Murad Raas, who formed the ‘Democrats’ group a few days ago has also pledged conditional support to Tareen – that is, if he is offered a good position in the new party.

The spinners have been at it for some months, though. They’ve been trying to bowl out Imran Khan by forming a splinter group to contest the next elections. In fact, the suggestion to form an independent party was made at a meeting hosted by real estate tycoon and former Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) supporter Aleem Khan at his house, which, reports say, was attended by Aun Chaudhry, Ishaq Khaqwani, Saeed Akbar Nawani, and Shoaib Siddiqui.
Tareen has captured big names with hollowed vote banks. They may not be heavyweights, but the establishment will probably use them to keep the PML-N and PTI at bay – and to create a hung parliament.

The Aleem Khan-Jehangir Tareen bond is old. Both were Imran Khan’s close aides in the early days of PTI. Khan ran the party on their generous financial contributions. They slotted out money for him till their ATM were made to run dry.

But a purported party bigwig, Aleem Khan, has a checkered political past. His most glorious win was as recent as 2018 when he won PA-158, Lahore 15, by beating PML-N’s Rana Ahsan. This victory was granted to him six years after he quit PML-Q to join PTI.

Like him, other PTI dissidents crossing over to the IPP have not undergone the rigours of elections. They are ‘non-electables,’ and almost none enjoy a national stature. Fawad Chaudry won for the first time on a PTI ticket from NA-67 and PP-27 Jhelum 3 in 2018, after several failed tries between 2002 and 2018. Aun Chaudhry has no experience of electoral politics. He worked as an advisor to Imran Khan on tourism, till Khan dismissed him in 2021 after the sugar scam. Murad Raas, leading the group of ‘democrats,’ entered the politics of Punjab in 2013. Another new entrant, Ishaq Khan Khakwani, contested general elections in 2018 on a PTI ticket from NA-163 Vehari, where he lost the election to PML-N candidate Syed Sajid Mehdi.

So far, Tareen has captured big names with hollowed vote banks. They may not be heavyweights, but the establishment will probably use them to keep the PML-N and PTI at bay – and to create a hung parliament.

But the game has just begun. With his pockets deep, Tareen has many options ahead. Since he stepped into politics in 1999, he has lost some elections and won a few. He has worked with Shehbaz Sharif and Imran Khan. His love for Shah Mahmood Qureshi is no secret.

The mystery is in what kind of performance he will show on the pitch. At age 73, he is not fit to hit hard. At his age, he has less time and more experience to show resistance. But will he?

He must, however, appeal against his disqualification order issued by the Supreme Court in 2018 under Article 62(1)(f) of the constitution on a petition filed by Hanif Abbasi for misdeclaration of assets. The court had rendered him ineligible to hold a public office for life. With the help of the Supreme Court (Review of Judgment and Order) Act 2023, he may just about find his way back into the arena.

Meanwhile, he has to build up a strong political narrative before his scramble for success disintegrates.

The writer is Consulting Editor at The Friday Times