Here’s a quick session with him on PTI’s policy and some of the questions around PTI’s ideals and popularity.
1) Being one of the PTI’s founding members, how do you feel about the inclusion of Hashmis and Qureshis?
Arif Alvi: We feel honored that veteran people like are the part of our PTI family now. They are an asset to our organization and I personally kept trying to convince (Javed) Hashmi sb to join our party for long. He’s a raw political leader whose sacrifices are immeasurable. Being one of the founding leaders you only wish that people of his joining the party. What’s the point of being threatened by their presence?
2) You fortunately happen to have the best chance of being elected from your seat- what do you propose to do once you get elected?
Arif Alvi: I wouldn’t like to restrict myself to what I’d do for my area but my priority includes a trio of Pakistan, Karachi, and definitely my constituency. It would be too elaborate to mention even the outlines of that plan here but our target areas would be to restore law and order, restrict inflation and increase employments for the people.
Our law and order situation is so worse that parties call for strike on a 30-minute notice and hijack the whole city several times in a month to meet their ends- and that’s one part. Dealing with militant groups and countering terrorism is another problem haunting our country for over a decade now.
3) Some choose to call Imran Khan’s fall a sympathy stunt- how do you respond to this?
Arif Alvi: Well, it’s definitely a sick perception considering he was injured and bruised in it. Rise or fall- it’s Allah’s wish. (smirked) If they think it to be a stunt, it may be Allah’s wish too and definitely not a planned strategy.
4) If time calls for PTI to form coalition government with MQM, would it be willing to do so?
Arif Alvi: We will form coalition strictly on the basis of ideology and not because we want to sit in parliament. If that’s not the case, we’d rather sit at home. If MQM abolish their militant cell and prove to us their sincerity towards the nation building cause, then we would definitely seek their support. It’s democracy and co-operation of all the parties is required for true welfare of the nation.
5) It’s claimed that PTI appears to have a soft corner for TTP and chooses not to speak about or against them. To what extent is this true?
Arif Alvi: It’s definitely not true. Fanaticism and terrorism to achieve one’s ends can never be tolerated let alone supported or entertained. For more than 10 years, we have been embroiled in bloody battle – war of terror – that’s not even ours. Tell me of all the counter terror strikes, which single militant has ever been brought in front of the court of law? None. Then, what sort of war is it against terror?
6) Isn’t it true that PTI is merely a one-man show? It appears there’s another cult after Bhutto- Imran Khan. Your take on this?
Arif Alvi: Yes, people are ardent supporters of Imran Khan because one he has earned it for him and second because it’s only natural for people to be inspired by personality, like people were inspired by Jinnah who led All India Muslim League.
But calling it a cult would be wrong, because we are one party that’s not based on any cult. PML has an N in it for Nawaz Sharif and family, PPP is all about Bhutto; we believe in a democratic set up where even Imran Khan could be replaced after completing his tenure as a chairman.
7) If your party comes into power, how do you plan to ensure accountability?
Arif Alvi: Accountability is possible when transparency is ensured. When PTI’s chairperson is willing to offer the scrutiny of his income and assets, what bigger stand can we take on ensuring the accountability? Can Mian Nawaz Sharif or Asif Ali Zardri offer the same? No. When the top leadership keeps an accountability of his or her action and set the system as such, then everyone becomes responsible for the country.
8) What do you think accounts for PTI’s phenomenal popularity in the last twelve months? Did it have something to do with the new campaigning strategies or else?
Arif Alvi: We have Asif Ali Zardari and all those who have enjoyed long reign and still cry about their inability to give country anything, to thank for our popularity. At least, they can’t blame us for the damage that has been done to the country, but we can surely blame them for it.