Islamabad - Two decades ago, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) had emerged on the national political scene as a non-conventional party with a slogan to get the country rid of corruption and corrupt politicians. However, today, it is embroiled in the same charges of corruption and corrupt practices.

These grave charges have been hurled not by some detractors of the party but by the loyalists — some of them founding members who worked with the PTI since its inception.

Akbar S Babar was one such founding member who responded to Imran Khan’s manifesto of ‘change’ prepared in 1996.

PTI chief Imran Khan severed connections with Babar in 2011, terming him too critical and an opportunist after a long association spanning over 15 years.

Babar, however, denied the charges and said he was penalised only for pointing out corruption within the party ranks.

Later, Babar formed the ‘Founders Group’ consisting of PTI dissidents. He also filed a case in the Election Commission of Pakistan charging the party with receiving illegal foreign funds.

Over the years, a number of heavyweights have left the PTI, levelling serious allegations against the party chief and his ‘kitchen cabinet’, but Babar’s pending petition in the ECP has proved a nightmare for the party and its leadership.

When questioned why have there been so many dissidents in the party, Babar said there are multiple reasons for it.

“Imran Khan is too self-cantered and too egoistic to be a leader. People get inspired with his speeches or his achievements as a cricketer and join the party, but when they realise his inner reality, they run away,” Babar explained.

Another reason, he said, is that Khan has no control over its men and they are openly doing corruption. “The PTI also has a real estate mafia wing,” he maintained.

He also said that it was a shock to know that Khan was also part of the two major real estate scams — Talhaar Housing Society and Banigala Housing Society. Members of these projects were deprived of their hard-earned millions of rupees, he added.

“In both the scams, the commoners land was sold to some members at an exorbitant price, while the others received only promises,” Babar said, showing a letter written to Imran Khan by Col (retd) Younis.

“Col Younis is the founding member of the party like me. He and his friends were deprived of millions of hard-earned money on the promise to give him a plot which he did not receive till date. When he raised his voice over it, the party chief (Khan) snubbed him,” Babar claimed.

“Aamir Kiani is the head of the real estate mafia and he wickedly has made Khan a partner in his all activities,” Babar alleged.

According to him, some other corrupt practices were also detected in the party but Khan never took any action against the persons involved.

Being a diehard worker and close aide to Khan for decades, Babar had a lot to disclose. He was not shy to share the dark secrets of the PTI and was ready to illustrate some significant – rather dangerous – facts with evidence.

He predicted a tough time for the party in coming days.

“A large number of opportunists have been inducted in the party after the Lahore rally. The present lot has no ideology and they have just joined Khan, assuming he will make the next government,” he said.

“You will see a major fissure in the party when Khan will distribute party tickets for the next general elections,” Babar said.

He said that dirt-bags have been taken on board simply because they can win seats and Khan can become next prime minister on their shoulders,” he said.

Babar said that the party members don’t have any common goal but a lust for power due to the absence of any binding force — ideology.

He said that it was due to the absence of any collective wisdom that Khan has failed to pocket the natural victory after the disqualification of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

“When the Panama Papers case was taken up by the Supreme Court, the Joint Investigation Team was formed, there was no justification of Khan’s bashing. With daily mudslinging sessions a perception was developed that Khan had sent Sharif home to become next prime minister — Sharif became a political martyr and he pulled thousands of people on GT Road,” he said.

“Khan has only one-point agenda - he wants to become prime minister. He left Pervez Musharraf when he came to know that he would make him a senior minister at most and not the prime minister. It is an irony that as much hard he is striving - things are turning against him, fast,” he said.

Babar had been highly praised for his political acumen by Khan on numerous occasions. In his last email to Babar, the PTI chief admired the political manoeuvring skills of his long associate.

“If Khan’s agenda is to get the top slot what about the ideology he has been religiously promoting for decades,” he questioned.

“Khan has nothing to do with any ideology. When I first met him, I realised he was a celebrity chasing for fame - his only mission was to become the prime minister. In order to make him populist, I branded him as anti-American, or a politician with rightist approach just to confront political giants like the PML-N and the PPP,” he said.

Babar said that his branding was very successful and was appreciated by Khan time and again.

“When I told him (Khan) to support Maulana Fazlur Rehman, as it was a political move, Khan was reluctant to support the Maulana, but on an insistence, he did it and was overwhelmed with the results when he received calls from FATA and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, congratulating him and telling him he was a true Muslim.

He said that Khan has a conflicting personality. At heart, he is a cold-blooded, selfish Gora (English), but he pretends to be inspired by the late General Hameed Gul and Javed Ghamidi. “Then all of sudden, after a successful rally, he altogether embarked on a different discourse - only one-point agenda – to oust Nawaz Sharif.”

He said that Khan has been inducting old faces - status quo politicians - electable - arguing that being a head he controls everyone and once in the PTI, everyone will be baptized for his past sins.

Babar says accepting old hats is just another evidence of Khan’s lust for power. “Khan’s philosophy has been to use the people to get the mission complete, but now people are using him,” Babar said.

Despite remaining his confidant for a long time, Babar is shy to speak about Khan’s personal life. “Khan had a difficult time after his divorce with Jemima but instead of improving, his moral values collapsed and it is painful for me to see him this way,” he said.

“Riasat Sarhadi, our diehard worker from Swabi for decades, died after a long ailment because he was a son of a peon - he could not afford dialysis and the KP government and Imran Khan did not bother to provide him any assistance. He was not provided medical assistance even in the government hospital,” Babar said with a sigh.



Becoming next PM Imran’s only agenda: PTI founding member