The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) (Urdu: پاکستان تحريک انصاف; Pakistan Movement for Justice) is a centrist, progressive political party in Pakistan, which was founded by former Pakistani cricket captain and philanthropist Imran Khan. The fastest growing political party in Pakistan, PTI has established itself as one of the country’s mainstream national parties.
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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was founded by Imran Khan on April 25, 1996 in Lahore, Pakistan. Founded initially as a sociopolitical movement, PTI began to grow slowly but never achieved immediate popularity. During the 1990s, Pakistan experienced instability, as Pakistan’s two largest political parties, the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (N), were elected but never completed their tenure due to allegations of corruption and mismanagement. In this time of divisive discord between the two feuding political parties, Khan launched PTI as a revolutionary party, which he claimed represented the true aspirations of the people of Pakistan. In 1999, when President Nawaz Sharif, a PML-N politician, was ousted by General Pervez Musharraf in a bloodless coup, Khan supported General Musharraf because he believed that General Musharraf would be able to unite the country and lead it forward, away from the internal bickering and impotency of Pakistan’s main political parties. Later, he would become one of General Musharraf’s most vehement critics.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s constitution was approved on January 24, 1999 by the Central Executive Committee in Lahore, Pakistan and in October 2002, Imran Khan ran for office in the National Elections and became a Member of Parliament (MP) for Mianwali, his hometown. PTI supported General Musharraf’s 2002 referendum, which allowed President Pervez Musharraf to remain in power for another five years. During the Musharraf era, PTI supported the government’s policies, which had allowed for strong economic growth, liberalization of the media, and general increase in prosperity and development. Khan, however, remained deeply critical of the entire political order of Pakistan, which he deemed corrupt, inefficient, and morally bereft of any of the founding principles of Pakistan. In protest, Khan began a grassroots campaign to raise awareness about his political party.
PTI believes that because Pakistan never developed properly, due to successive indifferent and incompetent administrations, the country never remained true to its founding ideals. As a relatively new political party in the national arena, PTI wishes to create a modern, democratic Islamic republic which advocates complete political, religious, and economic freedom. Basing his entire political platform as being derived from Jinnah’s vision of a harmonious and peaceful country, PTI chief Imran Khan has consistently spoken out against exploitation, corruption, and prejudices of all kind. One of the most dynamic political parties, PTI has envisaged a democratic system ensuring justice, equality and prosperity for all citizens.
In large part, the rise of PTI has stemmed from dissatisfaction with the status-quo, which has usually consisted of military dictatorships and corrupt democratically elected administrations. With a ruling elite in Pakistan that has historically focused on maintaining power, thereby stunting the growth of true democracy, Pakistan experienced several transitions from democratic to dictatorial regimes and vice versa. When such military dictatorships emerged, the federal government assumed complete control and usually subverted the constitutional powers of the various federating units.
PTI has emerged as a robust counterweight to Pakistan’s two traditional political parties, the Pakistan People’s Party and the Pakistan Muslim League (N). While the PML-N’s former stronghold consisted of the urban areas of Punjab and the PPP drew most of its support from Sindh, PTI maintains that it represents all Pakistanis, regardless of religious, ethnic, linguistic, and provincial backgrounds. During the Musharraf era, PTI pursued a policy of cautious optimism, but as President Musharraf declared martial law and became more anti-democratic, PTI became more vocal in denouncing him. After Benazir Bhutto was assassinated in 2007 and Nawaz Sharif returned from self-exile in Saudi Arabia, pressure increased upon President Musharraf to hold democratic elections. PTI, in conjunction with many political parties, joined the All Parties Democratic Movement, which was opposed to further military rule. The general elections in 2008, which were boycotted by the PTI, resulted in a PPP victory.
Under the Zardari administration, Khan’s popularity has soared amid discontent with the ruling administration’s domestic and foreign policy. PTI’s strongest appeal is its credentials as a populist party. With increasing corruption, inflation, terrorism, extremism, nepotism, and crony capitalism, the popularity of PTI has surged. Projecting itself as the only political party which will be able to solve the many ills that plague Pakistan, PTI has promised to create a truly independent, self-reliant Pakistan which is free from debt, dependency, and discord if elected to power in the 2013 general elections. In Pakistan: A Personal History, PTI Chairman Imran Khan argues that a selfish and corrupt ruling elite, made up of primarily politicians, feudals, and military bureaucrats, has destroyed Pakistan and brought it to the brink of disaster.