Ijazul Haq’s recent political journey, characterised by his decision to form an electoral alliance with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), were met with both anticipation and skepticism.
As an old friend of Ijazul Haq, the chairman of Pakistan Muslim League-Zia (PML-Z), I had the opportunity to advise him during this crucial period in the last three months. I offered blunt insights and cautionary reminders about his core constituency and the dynamics of the political landscape.
Before Ijazul Haq’s alliance with the PTI in March, we maintained regular contact. He asked me for a piece of advice regarding his planned alliance with the PTI.
I advised him to adopt a wait-and-watch approach, considering the PTI’s strong anti-establishment stance and its growing popularity among the masses. It is not a secret that Ijazul Haq’s core support base lays within the army and the establishment. I urged him to carefully evaluate the potential consequences of aligning with a party that thrives on anti-establishment narratives.
During our conversations, Ijazul Haq expressed his reservations about former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, citing a lack of chemistry and the unfeasibility of pursuing a solo political path. He saw the PTI as a better alternative, believing that his alliance with the party could serve as a means to bridge the gap between the PTI and the establishment. His intention was to bring the two entities closer, a mission he ultimately failed to accomplish.
Who failed him in this mission? This is what I will ask Ijazul Haq about whenever we have a candid discussion. Right now, he is Saudi Arabia.
However, amidst his decision to join the PTI, confusion arose regarding the status of his party. Media reports inaccurately claimed that Ijazul Haq had merged his party into the PTI. I called and reminded him necessitating a clarification from his side. Recognizing the need to clear the air, Ijazul Haq promised to address the matter. Unfortunately, the subsequent unfolding of events and the perceived inefficiency of his PR section led to a failure in properly addressing the confusion and dispelling any misconceptions.
Ijazul Haq made the alliance with the PTI in March. However, merely two months later, on May 28, Ijazul Haq declared his departure from the PTI, clarifying to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that his party, PML-Z, had not merged with PTI.
In response to a letter from the ECP regarding his party’s status and the forthcoming general elections, Ijazul Haq says that there was no merger between PML-Z and PTI. While he acknowledged the possibility of an election alliance with PTI, he emphasized that the news reports suggesting a merger were baseless. The ECP sought clarification on the matter to proceed with the necessary procedures under the Elections Act, 2017.
Currently residing in Saudi Arabia, Ijazul Haq expressed his distress over the events of May 9. In a tweet, he condemned the acts of violence that took place on that day, calling it a dark moment in history. Being the son of a martyr and having a deep-rooted connection with the army due to his upbringing, Haq affirmed his unwavering support for the military, stating that it is his lifeline.
Ijazul Haq’s recent political moves serve as a cautionary tale, illustrating the importance of strategic decision-making and effective communication. While his desire to align with the PTI was rooted in his aspirations to bridge gaps and bring about a closer relationship between the party and the establishment, the outcome did not align with his intentions. The complexities of political alliances and the ever-changing dynamics of the political landscape demand careful consideration and meticulous planning.
When he is back from Saudi Arabia, I will have a round of discussions with him. Right now, Ijazul Haq should be left alone to spend time in spiritual pursuits. Politics is always changing.