Adnan Randhawa too wants to appeal to educated middle-class and end corruption of ruling elite

For the second time, Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party has found an echo in Pakistan. First it was Arsalan ul Mulk from Gujranwala whose Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was registered by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and now it is a former foreign services officer and lawyer Adnan Randhawa, 34, who wants to follow in Mr. Kejriwal’s footsteps.

On Monday, Mr. Randhawa applied to the ECP for a formal registration for his Aam Aadmi of Pakistan Party (AAPP). He was formerly with the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf (PTI), a party which has often been likened to the AAP in India. Yet Mr. Randhawa became disillusioned with the way things were going and the turning point came on March 3 when he saw the district court being fired at and bombed from his office overlooking the complex.

‘Out of the box solution needed’

He expected a strong statement from his party, which was not forthcoming, and it was still harping on a rapprochement with the terrorists. That was when he decided enough was enough and quit his party. He found it difficult to defend the PTI’s stand on terrorism and felt an out of the box solution was needed. A diplomat-turned political worker, he was posted in China for two years before becoming a protocol officer in Pakistan dealing with the Raymond Davis case, among other things.

“On April 16, 2011 Davis was released and even as I was resigning, I heard he was being flown out of the country,” he said.

He began thinking it was politics and not bureaucracy which was the right place for him. “I was always keen on politics and felt it was the place where I could take up issues and make changes. I wanted to rejuvenate politics and I joined PTI in 2011. It was a wonderful experience and I used to also write a weekly column in Jang,” he said.

An aspiring candidate for the National Assembly seat from Islamabad, he worked at the grassroots level to enrol members. “We worked to strengthen the local organisation from scratch and I knew this experience would come in handy someday,” he said.

Those were the thoughts in his mind as he quit PTI and decided to launch his own organisation to carry forward the aspirations of his old party. Like Mr. Kejriwal, he too wants to appeal to the educated middle-class and end the corruption of the ruling elite.

He has studied the AAP phenomenon in India and felt it had given a voice to the voiceless and winning the Delhi Assembly, a major power centre was remarkable.

Mr. Randhawa said Mr. Kejriwal symbolised honesty and credibility and that’s what he wanted to emulate in Pakistan. His new party will bear a resemblance to both the AAP in India and the PTI. He hopes to draw from workers of the PTI who are not status quoists and are sincere.

Urgent need

Mr. Randhawa believes there is a felt need for such parties in India and Pakistan and the AAPP would fill a lacuna. He says the present Pakistan government came to power through rigging and doesn’t have a mandate.