The debate over the split within the PTI was the major news of the week, following Imran Khan's statement on Osama bin Laden as a martyr.
D. Suba Chandran
International Strategic and Security Studies Programme (ISSSP)
National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), Bangalore
The US State Department Annual Report on Terrorism: Pakistan continues to serve "as a safe haven for certain regionally-focused terrorist groups”
The annual report of the US Department of State on Terrorism presents a mixed case on what Pakistan has achieved in fighting terrorism.
First, the report was critical on Pakistan’s efforts to curb the activities of terrorist groups fighting in Pakistan’s neighbourhood. The report makes two specific points on Pakistan’s efforts relating to the same. First, Pakistan “allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN, as well as groups targeting India, including LeT and its affiliated front organizations, and JeM, to operate from its territory.” Second, Pakistan “took modest steps in 2019 to counter terror financing and to restrain some India-focused militant groups following the February attack on a security convoy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir claimed by Pakistan-based JeM.”
The report’s conclusion is: “Islamabad has yet to take decisive actions against Indian- and Afghanistan-focused militants who would undermine their operational capability.”
Second, the report, however, is appreciative of Pakistan's role in helping the US regarding the Afghan Taliban. The report says: “The Pakistani government also played a constructive role in U.S.-Taliban talks in 2019.”
Finally, the report on Pakistan’s response to fulfilling the FATF requirements. According to the report, “Pakistan made some progress toward meeting the action plan requirements for the FATF, allowing it to avoid being blacklisted, but did not complete all action plan items. In early 2019, Pakistan issued, inter alia, a statutory regulatory ordinance directing the immediate implementation of sanctions against individuals and entities designated under UNSCR 1267. In October 2019, APG published a Mutual Evaluation Report that reviewed Pakistan's compliance with FATF standards and the effectiveness of Pakistan's AML/CFT system.”
The rift within the PTI
Following the interview of the federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, the debate over the infighting within the PTI was raging within the party and outside it. The interview to the Voice of America, now available at the Youtube, have kickstarted the latest round of debate over the fault lines within the PTI. While Fawad Chaudhry is being blamed for his interview, there is no denying the fact about the PTI infighting.
The earlier debate, during the recent week, was over the exit of Jahangir Tareen. According to Fawad Chaudhry, the difference within the PTI amongst Tareen, Asad Umar and Qureshi were strong, leading to multiple groups.
According to reports from Pakistani media, Asad Umar, the former Finance Minister was removed from his position because of Tareen. And now, Umar has got Tareen out.
The differences within the PTI has a long history and would amplify its growth, from a single leader (Imran Khan) who could not win a single election in his early career, to where he and his party is today. The PTI was not built in a single day, and not by Imran Khan alone. There was help from outside, especially the Deep State. While there was a core within the PTI leadership, that stayed with Imran from the beginning, the rest of them came to him at the last stage before the 2018 elections. Some of them have been asked to go by the Deep State, and some found it an option when they realized the newfound background support to the PTI. So a group of leaders, who joined the PTI on the even of 2018 elections did so, not because they believed the party or in Imran Khan, but they saw what was written on the electoral wall.
Then came the debate about the “electable” in which Imran gave tickets knowing their background. But the primary criteria was whether he or she would get Imran a seat. As an ambitious leader, who wanted to form the government following the 2018 elections, he allocated seats who will win than who were loyal to the party and him.
There was bound to be a difference between those who were staying with Imran from the beginning, and those who joined during 2016-18.
Then came the third wave, post-elections and post-government formation. The introduction of the Specialists – either on Imran's own conviction, or suggested by the Deep State, has been a major cause of friction between the elected leaders and the selected ones. Those in the first two categories are united in opposition to the third.
The fourth – the bureaucrats. One of the primary problems for the PTI in Punjab is over the power enjoyed by the bureaucrats than the elected leaders of the PTI or the party members. The latter want to have more powers, and want to be seen as the power centres, and distribute the developmental funds through them.
Finally, the coalition members, another reason for the PTI's heartburn in Punjab. The PML-Q led by the Chaudhrys demand a huge pound of PTI flesh for their support to the federal government and more importantly, the PTI government in Punjab province.
So, will the party split? No. From Jahangir Tareen to Asad Umar – they would know they do not have a future outside the PTI and Imran Khan. Leaders like Shah Mehmood Qureshi (Foreign Minister) and Sheikh Rashid Ahmad (Railway Minister) have served under different Prime Ministers and affiliated with different parties; on their own, they may not rise any further than what they are.
Also in the News during the week...
Imran Khan calls Osama bin Laden a martyr in Parliament. While addressing the Parliament, Imran Khan on 26 June made a controversial statement that was criticized by the Opposition on Osama bin Laden. He was quoted to have stated that the US came to Abbottabad and martyred Osama bin Laden heaping humiliation on Pakistan.
Imran promises to raise the Kashmir issue at the global level on 5 August. In a meeting held in Muzafarabad, the Prime Minister of Pakistan stated: “There will be a movement across the globe on 5 August and afterwards to remind the world community of what's happening in Indian occupied Kashmir…We will make full preparations before 5 August with the involvement of Pakistanis and Kashmiris living anywhere across the globe.”
Chief Justice of Pakistan Gulzar Ahmad criticizes the State for failing to provide basic facilities to its citizens. In suo motu case on the measures taken by the federal and provincial governments to address the COVID-19, the Chief Justice, heading a five-judge Supreme Court bench asked, “why should people listen to the government in the absence of basic amenities like water, health, education, employment and now 18-hour-long loadshedding when factories are closed.”
Pakistan wants to extradite Altaf Hussain from the United Kingdom. The previous week, one of the Anti-Terrorism Courts in Pakistan has convicted three from the MQM with a life sentence for murdering Imran Farooq, another MQM leader. The latter was killed in London in 2010. The ATC could make the decision based on the testimony from the British police in the court in Pakistan.
On Monday, Imran Khan repeated his position on the lockdown, making it clear that it was not his idea. He was quoted to have stated: “I’d have never endorsed lockdown had provinces asked.”
Following the report on the crash of Pakistan Airlines PK 8303, the government decides to take action on pilots with dubious licences. According to a report in Dawn, due to fake degrees, 648 Pakistan International Airlines employees had been dismissed from service since 2006, that included 119 cabin crew, 16 cockpit crew, 98 were employees of the engineering department and 415 of general administration.
According to the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC), the number of COVID-19 cases has been declining every day during the last few days, despite 4,000 to 5,000 cases being reported daily.