LAHORE - The membership of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is far less than it previously believed, revealed a party exercise carried out before a fresh membership drive – beginning today.

PTI sources told The Nation on Thursday that only two percent of around seven million members registered before the intra-party polls of 2013 have been validated.

It was yet to be determined if it was a faulty data entry system that gave hugely misleading figures, or there was some other reason behind it. PTI Punjab organizer Chaudhary Sarwar will formally launch membership drive in the province today. Imran Khan’s party needs to swell its ranks for upcoming local polls.

The party claimed of registering more than seven million members before the launch of intra-party polls in 2013. But the party offices were dissolved this year after a tribunal under Justice (r) Wajih Ahmed found massive irregularities in the party elections. Fresh intra-party polls will be held after the local bodies’ elections.

Chaudhary Sarwar, who is also former governor of Punjab, confirmed formal launch of the membership drive today but declined to comment on the existing strength of the party.

He told this scribe he would appoint membership secretaries who would select 12-member team for advancing the membership campaign and maintaining the record of new members.

Punjab Advisory Council membership will be increased from 18 to 80. It was set up last month to assist the provincial organiser. After expansion it will comprise all the party MPAs and MNAs from Punjab and some other provincial leaders.

Sarwar said he would also constitute task forces to report on different public departments and identify failures of government policies.

Senior PTI leader Justice (r) Wajih Ahmed, whose membership was suspended, told The Nation that he would not rest till the expulsion of all those party leaders who played foul in intra-party elections. He will also hold a press conference at Lahore Press Club today.

Wajih said, “I will insist through my press conference to expel Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Jahangir Tareen, Aleem Khan and Nadir Akmal Leghari as I found them involved in buying their way to party offices through rigging intra-party polls.” About charges of violating the party discipline, he said, “I violated no discipline. Issuing party circulars barring a party member from discussing internal party matters in media is in fact basic violation of democratic norms.”

Mr Wajih said he met with Chaudhry Sarwar late Wednesday and they discussed overall party matters. Asked if he was requested to go soft on the party in his today’s press conference, he said, “No Sarwar didn’t make any such request. We pondered over various ideas to strengthen the party at grass root level and to make it a real force of the people.”