‘Open for all’: Ex-PML-N leaders Miftah Ismail, Shahid Khaqan launch new party Awaam Pakistan

Former PML-N leaders Miftah Ismail and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Saturday formally launched a new party called Awaam Pakistan, saying it was “open to all” to join.

Leaders have long floated the idea of ​​a new political entity that would lead the country out of perpetual crises. Last month, Awaam Pakistan appeared on the political horizon of the country after a video posted on the party’s X account was shared with the slogan “Awaam Pakistan: Badlein ge nizam” (Citizens of Pakistan: We will change the system).

The video, which featured a number of dejected citizens asking about various national issues, was re-shared by both Ismail and Abbasi.

Today, the celebration was formally launched.

Speaking at a ceremony in Islamabad, the former finance minister said his party’s vision is to provide equal economic opportunities to Pakistanis. He declared that Awaam Pakistan would not follow “hereditary politics” or the “messiah” concept.

“If you believe we have the right to move forward […] join us, we will stand with you and restore Pakistan,” Ismail said.

“No senior party member will serve more than two terms,” ​​he said. “Not even their children will come and take their position. We will not have dynasties or cults of personality here, we will operate on the basis of merit.”

He lamented how Pakistan lags behind most other countries in almost all sectors.

“It was not so long ago that Pakistan was the richest country in South Asia, now we are behind everyone else,” he said, pointing out that Pakistan was even behind Nepal in human development.

“The highest number of out-of-school children in the world is in Pakistan and not in bigger countries like China,” he added. “Our government spends 1.5 to 2 rupees on education and yet we still lag behind Sudan, Yemen, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and other states.

Ismail said 100 million Pakistanis live below the poverty line. “Their children sleep hungry. This is where our politicians have brought us,” he lamented.

He said 40 percent of Pakistanis suffer from limited physical and mental development due to malnutrition. “If these children have no future, what future does the countryside have? Can this country move on like this?”

“We have been left behind because we are a predatory state,” Ismail said. “To our politicians, we are not citizens, we are prey.”

He said the recently approved budget was formulated only for the benefit of politicians. “Taxes have been doubled for those earning between Rs 75,000 and Rs 100,000. Imagine how much they have to pay on top of utilities, fees and medical bills.”

Ismail said his party’s first priority would be to give Pakistanis opportunities to advance. “If you believe that Pakistanis have the right to move forward and have opportunities, join us, we will stand with you and pull Pakistan out.”

Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also addressed the ceremony and expressed regret that politics had become “more about retaining seats than serving the public”.

“It is disturbing that we are more worried about our seats than our country,” he said. “What moral authority do they have to solve our problems?”

However, he expressed hope that the public “wishes to be part of something better” and added that “the first step on a difficult path has been taken”.

He emphasized that Awaam Pakistan is an “unconventional party” and that it represents an idea unlike a traditional, structured political party.

“Anyone can take a group of voters, create some internal structure and call themselves a political party,” he said. “We haven’t invited anyone yet, we just presented an idea. When we’re ready, we’ll reach out to people and start talking to them.

“Voters are part of politics, but not all electors are recognisable,” Abbasi continued. “You need ability and influence to be in Awaam Pakistan. If you don’t have either, you can’t be part of this party.”

The ex-prime minister said that, unlike other parties, his brainchild will not be looking for just anyone for members.

“We want people who will contribute to the country, not take away from it,” he said. “Only those who contribute or give can help the country move forward.”

As for the ideology of the new party, Abbasi said he answers this question by asking “what is your ideology?

“The concept of left and right has died in Pakistan,” he said. “Our ideology is helping and taking responsibility for the people of Pakistan. We have to lift up the country. If not us, who? Awaam Pakistan is the name of this idea.”

Following Miftah’s remarks, Abbasi said the country cannot be governed without following the constitution and the law. “This party is firmly rooted in Pakistan’s constitution and parliamentary democracy, there is no other way,” he said. “It is disturbing that 70 years have passed and we still do not respect the constitution.

“The tragedy is that those sworn to defend the Constitution violate it every day. How can a country of 240 million people run like this?’

He said within three to four weeks the party would issue a mission statement outlining its goals and policies. “In this statement, we will present solutions to the country’s problems to prove that we are not all just talking,” Abbasi said.

Abbasi said he is often asked if he has the establishment’s permission to form a new party. “This is the point we’ve come to. In this country, the common man believes that nothing can happen without the establishment saying so.

“They think the parties can’t do anything and that’s because the establishment created the parties,” he said.

The former prime minister slammed the political class, saying: “Politicians now like to talk about accountability. Everyone says they will hold people accountable, but these are the same people who tax others and don’t pay taxes themselves.”

He said MPs needed to explain how they could tax milk while avoiding tax themselves as he criticized revenue collection, governance and policing systems as “useless”.

“People on this stage can provide better solutions than our current politicians,” Abbasi said to applause.

Apart from Ismail and Abbasi, former PML-N leader and KP Governor Mehtab Abbasi also addressed the event.