After weeks of negotiations and meetings, Thursday saw the birth of a new party led by Jahangir Khan Tareen, named the Istehkam-i-Pakistan Party (IPP). But while the name and the to-be-decided election symbol might be new, the faces certainly aren’t. The press conference for the announcement featured prominent personalities from the former PTI government, ranging from Sindh governor Imran Ismail to party spokespersons in the centre and Punjab in Fawad Chaudhry, Fayaaz Chohan and Firdous Ashiq Awan.
Some of those joining had sombre expressions with speculation about why this decision was made by leaders like Fawad Chaudhry. But the fact of the matter is that most of those that have joined the new party are seasoned politicians with other party affiliations in the past. PTI was not their first party, and for many IPP might indeed not be their last.
With the party name decided and many of the initial members announced, the real work begins now. This is election year, and every party other than PTI now feels stronger than it was. PPP’s victory in Kashmir on Friday shows that the party will likely lean on Bilawal in the months and electoral campaigns to come. The party’s winning candidate Sardar Ziaul Qamar indicated that his victory was a result of the Foreign Minister’s campaigning and it is expected the FM will now shift his focus to the Punjab battleground in the months to come.
The PML-N has also come out of this new party formation in a potential position of strength from its own perspective. Its biggest opponent from 2018—Imran Khan and his party—look to be at their weakest in this entire decade. Some within PML-N have expressed a willingness to work on a seat adjustment strategy with the newly-formed IPP as well. But will this be possible? Jahangir Tareen held meetings and worked together with the PDM alliance after the no-trust vote last year, but the formation of a separate party indicates that PPP and PML-N will also have to contend against a new opponent, one that has electables from all over the country with aims to contest elections on a national level.
There are already cracks appearing in the alliances formed over the past year, and it is likely that PPP, MQM and PML-N will go their separate ways when campaigning picks up. The IPP might ally itself with one or the others for now, but ultimately, its leaders will have their own ambitions of forming a government and securing the best possible position after the elections. All national parties must be wary of the new player in the game.