ANALYSIS: Is it PTI's turn to see electables 'fly out' of its nest?

WITH Imran Khan's once-close allies, Faisal Vawda and Khurram Hameed Rokhri, falling out with him and consequently losing their party memberships, political pundits see this as an indication the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) may also go down the path that other mainstream parties did in the past - 'electables' flying out of its camp (on the signal of the powers that be) ahead of the next general elections.

In background conversations with Dawn, a couple of senior PTI leaders have acknowledged that attempts to 'poach some birds' from their camp had already been launched by powerful quarters, but claimed the moves hadn't been successful 'thanks to the massive popularity of Imran Khan'.

The term 'electable' is often used for individuals or political families that have a personal clout in their constituency and a sizable vote bank, which is independent of their affiliation with any political party.

Just before the PTI launched its ongoing long march from Lahore on Oct 28, senior PTI leader Faisal Vawda had, in a late-night presser, surprised many by foreboding that the march on Islamabad would be 'bloody with possible deaths of innocent people'.

Similarly, retired Maj Rokhri attempted to take the air out of his party chairman's narrative by speaking in favour of intelligence officer Maj Gen Faisal Naseer - who Mr Khan accuses as one of those who conspired to have him eliminated in Wazirabad. The party has terminated the membership of both leaders.

Conspicuous by their absence

Previously, more than 60 electables, especially those belonging to the PML-N and PPP from Punjab, had joined the PTI ahead of the 2018 general elections. The party of the Sharifs had alleged that the powerful military establishment forced these leaders to ditch the PML-N to join the PTI so that Mr Khan could be conveniently 'brought to power'.

Going further back, retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had carved out the PML-Q from the PML-N at turn of the century.

Currently, Mr Khan's party is on the roads, taking on 'the Sharifs, Zardaris and the establishment' with a demand for snap polls, but the PTI's own electables, like Khusro Bakhtiar (Rahim Yar Khan), Nazar Gondal (Mandi Bahauddin), Tahir Iqbal and Aurangzeb Khichi (Vehari), Fakhar Imam (Khanewal), Khawaja Sheraz Mahmood and Amjad Khosa (Dera Ghazi Khan), Jaffar Leghari and Sardar Nasrullah Dreshak (Rajanpur) have not been seen as taking an active part in recent protests.

This has set tongues wagging, and many are expecting...

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