ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) has virtually scrapped its plan to hold a protest sit-in at the palatial residence of Sharifs in Raiwind that has been named as ‘Raiwind March’ after getting poor response from other political parties to become part of the protest as well as from the inner party circles.

PTI, a major opposition party in the National Assembly, will keep on pressing the government through different other measures to form the judicial commission under the supervision of sitting judges of the Supreme Court to probe the Panama Leaks but avoid a Raiwind sit-in at the moment, The Nation has learnt after background interviews with some senior PTI leaders.

All eyes are set on the address of Chairman Imran Khan at F-9 park on the eve of celebrations of party’s foundations (April 24) as he has more than once asked that he would give his party’s next plan of action if the government did not form a judicial commission, as PTI demands to probe the offshore wealth of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family. Some PTI workers are expecting that perhaps Imran Khan will announce the date of Raiwind March. “A detailed discussion is going on within the party over the strategy of the protest to pressurise the government to form an independent commission but we will use the choice of Raiwind sit-in as the last option,” said Saifullah Khan Niazi, a close aide to PTI Chairman and former additional secretary information PTI.

According to a PTI leader, the whole scenario had changed after the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif’s decision to dismiss 11 army officers over alleged corruption charges. “I think the party should re-consider all its decisions of protest and make a fresh strategy as the situation has become different after this development,” he said.

Background discussions with PTI leadership pointed out two main reasons of the postponement of Raiwind March. First is the poor response of all the political parties to become part of its protest. Senior PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who is also heading PTI’s political committee on Panama Leaks, has contacted all the opposition parties including PPP, ANP, JI and PML-Q on the issue. All parties have endorsed the point of view of PTI but no one has promised to become part of its protest. Imran Khan on the day of announcement of Raiwind March had said that his party would not take a ‘solo flight’ this time.

The second main reason is the strong opposition of the sit-in from some of the senior party leaders. PTI leader and former Governor Punjab Chaudhry Sarwar has openly opposed the sit-in. A number of party leaders are of the view that PTI would waste its energies on a sit-in as it should prepare for the next general elections due in 2018 while capitalising on Panama Leaks. Imran Khan’s close aides have advised him that it would be difficult to mobilise party workers when all organisations of the party had been dissolved for an intra-party polls.

“It took PTI one year to prepare for a sit-in that was held in 2014 in front of the parliament house against alleged rigging in 2013 General Elections. So, there is no urgency to give date for a sit-in. We will first utilise our other resources to pressurise the government,” said the PTI leader.

As the discussions within PTI are going on for the next protest strategy on its demand of a judicial commission under the apex court, one option is being considered to hold big rallies especially in Punjab, the power centre of PML-N. Imran Khan is being advised to announce other two or three rallies in the main cities of Punjab on the issue of Panama Leaks and announce this plan in his April 24 address to the workers at F-9 Park.

Sadaqat Abbasi, former President PTI North said that PTI would have to arrange more big rallies on Panama Leaks to create more awareness among the masses. “If you hold a rally in Islamabad, its impact would be up to Chakwal and Jhelum as the proximity matters,” he said and added one such rally could be held in Lahore, other in Multan for south Punjab and another for the areas of Gujranwala and Sailkot. Abbasi is the member of committee that has been asked to mobilise the workers for the April 24 gathering from Rawalpindi and north side.

“We will give our future plan of action. There are other strategies of protest under discussion. We will definitely use to option of Raiwind sit-in but as last resort,” said Iftikhar Durrani, the head of PTI’s Central Media Department and added: “We have not shelved the Raiwind sit-in plan.”