Home Editorial Editorial: Rifts within the PTI

Editorial: Rifts within the PTI

So long as Imran Khan remains in the driver’s seat, there is little chance of breakaway factions within the PTI gaining any traction

by Editorial

File photo of PTI founder Imran Khan

Rifts within the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have gone public, with multiple reports alleging nearly two-dozen MNAs of the party are considering forming a forward bloc due to differences with the incumbent leadership. The crux of the issue is a segment of PTI lawmakers alleging that the party leadership is not interested in securing founder Imran Khan’s release and demanding greater access to him in prison to overcome the impression that they are taking decisions without his express approval.

Adding fuel to the fire is Omar Ayub Khan’s recent decision to step down as the PTI secretary general to “do justice” to his role as leader of the opposition in the National Assembly. Sensing blood in the water, PTI leader Sher Afzal Marwat has also demanded the resignation of PTI Senator Shibli Faraz, accusing him of not acting in Khan’s interest. Meanwhile, PTI MNA Junaid Akbar has resigned from the party’s core committee after alleging the leadership had barred him from meeting Khan. While such infighting is not unique for political parties in Pakistan, especially when leaders end up in jail as with Imran Khan, the public fallout witnessed today has taken on a dimension hitherto unseen.

Yet while his party is crumbling, Khan remains popular, encouraging external actors to take advantage of the situation. One such individual is Chaudhry Fawad Hussain, who deserted the party after the May 9, 2023 riots, and is now angling a re-entry, despite significant pushback from the current leadership. In a recent interaction with media, Fawad said rifts within the party were evident, but rubbished reports of any forward bloc, maintaining it would have little impact as there is no PTI without Imran Khan. Undoubtedly, part of the reason for the present rifts is the ongoing crackdown against the party and increasing indications of Khan remaining imprisoned in the near future. But while the PTI as a party might look like being a troubled entity, the charisma of Khan remains unshaken and could prove an effective firewall against its collapse.

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