Mazari Resignation: The Middle Class Problem In Pakistani Politics

Text of Mazari’s resignation letter:
Dear Imran,

It is with great sadness and disappointment that I am writing to let you know I have been compelled to leave PTI. As you know, when you came to see me at the time you had just formed PTI, I had made a commitment to you that I would join PTI only whenever I was able to join direct politics, especially electoral politics. I totally agreed with your vision for change, especially in the context of foreign policy which has always been a central focus of mine for over 40 years. So it was with absolutely no hesitation that I came to see you in 2008 after the elections PTI boycotted. I joined PTI with no bargaining for any position. All I sought was an assurance that the same ideals, again especially in terms of change and foreign policy, still prevailed.

I worked for the Party and tried to help any way I could – be it with Omar Cheema in the media or with the administration of the Islamabad office as well as formulating an alternate viable foreign policy narrative for the Party. The most encouraging and vital aspect of PTI at the time was the driving sense everyone had that we were going to be the harbingers of change not only in terms of nationalist policies for Pakistan but also in a new egalitarian non-elitist political culture. In fact this egalitarianism prevailed throughout the party beginning with yourself, which allowed for a truly democratic interaction in the Party.

In addition, your appeal of change was your own style of politics where you reached out directly to the masses of the electorate. It may have taken a long time but the Lahore 2011 jalsa was the game changer for Pakistan’s electoral politics. Unfortunately after the Lahore Oct 2011 jalsa, after which you, like ZA Bhutto, could have built up your party’s existing leadership including the large group of middle class and professional followers you had into potential “electables” who would directly interact with the people, you chose to open the floodgates for old traditional “electables”.

So, after trying to accept the new PTI realities for some time, I feel in all honesty I cannot go along with this post-Lahore PTI for the following reasons:

This shift in moving from directly reaching out to the electorate to using intermediaries – the so-called “electables” – between the people and yourself has gradually turned the PTI into a traditional political party with all the excess baggage that that connotes. No doubt some of these “electables” are indeed financially clean, but to effectively hand them control of the Party was unwarranted. After all if they were so skilled and committed to principles then why were they unable to formulate policies to improve the country? Most had been Party hopping and had occupied public offices for substantive time periods yet they represented no stream of change or an alternative narrative to the status quo. The energy policy of PTI reflects this status quo mindset as does the economic policy which is effectively purely a fiscal policy set to please the IMF! A whole critique can be made of the economic policy but the main point is that it has no relief for the common man, including a total absence of any reduction in utility rates. It is strange that while you have been critiquing GST and indirect taxation consistently and correctly, the PTI economic policy has done a total reversal on this position – reflective of the policy shifts being made in PTI.
A new culture of money has sprung up with big money taking over Party programmes. The plane and helicopter dependency is one reflection of this but so are other disturbing happenings like the donation of Rs 50 lakhs by one individual to some ISF leaders directly – ostensibly for aiding the membership drive – instead of it going via the Party account.
The membership drive itself through membership booklets has some serious questions hanging over it and I did try to raise these in the PSC meeting on the issue but to no avail. I still maintain that by selling the booklets we allowed the rich members to purchase huge amounts of the booklets and then make their members with no check on whether these books were being filled simply to build up local support for the intra party elections at Union and District levels or whether the members being enlisted were genuinely believers and supporters of PTI! Also rumours abound about motorbikes and other gifts being given by the big money players to people who managed to make a certain number of members. In other words, the intra-Party elections are not going to be held on a level playing field by any yardstick!
The reality is that today PTI has been effectively taken over by traditional politicians reflecting big money and/or feudal “sardars”. As if that is not disappointing enough, retired civil and military bureaucrats have also found senior niches in the Party. Tragically none of these new entrants can bring about the change which PTI had been promising.
To make matters worse, our think tanks which contain some of the most senior technocrats have been totally ignored in policy making despite some very competent people being present there like Mr Pervez Butt who headed our PAEC for many years. All these competent people have been either totally ignored or treated with utter disdain by the big money players.
As for the incident in Rajanpur, I maintain my position that you could have driven the one hour distance from DG Khan to Rajanpur and I had offered Mr Tareen for your group to stay overnight at my village if you could not make it to Mr Tareen’s farm in Lodhran. The next day you had to go to Sindh and my village was much closer and Mr Tareen has an airstrip next door in Jamaldinwali so his plane could have come to pick your party up. That I made the critical speech before our people in Rajanpur was necessary as I felt their pain – since they had waited from 11 am right uptil 4 45 pm! Many were flood affectees and to simply suggest that they should be reassembled from across the district the next day was not possible.
Sadly, instead of resolving the issue amicably, your social media and their “trolls” chose to use filthy abuses against my daughter which compelled her to leave the party; and you chose to adopt a vengeful posture by serving me with a show cause notice and then sending a message that I should make a public apology and retract my statement. Since I maintain I did nothing wrong and since there was nothing incorrect in my statement about the takeover of the Party, I will not dignify the show cause notice with a response – especially since the points cited in it also happen to be factually incorrect.
I have never doubted your integrity or commitment but unfortunately you are being overwhelmed by those who have never had an ideology in all the years they were in politics or the bureaucracy. It is not enough to simply have faith in you because a Party is defined by more than one man – it is defined by its collective leadership.
I hope that we are not reduced to abuse and name calling on the social media again as it will not do anyone any good. I do not want to reduce myself to personal attacks and we refrained from such filth even when my daughter was being subjected to filthy abuse. But there are limits to everyone’s patience.
If PTI really does choose to revert to directly relating to the masses, its original character and ideology of change and justice, I will be there to serve the Party in any way I can. For me coming into electoral politics through PTI was simply to affect national agendas in a way that qualitatively changes Pakistan for the better. Sadly, the commitment to change, that made us all in PTI develop a comradeship and bond that was unique, is withering away fast in all but name. So it is with a heavy heart that I leave PTI knowing that the only change PTI has brought has been in yourself and the nature of the collective leadership.
Shireen M Mazari


The resignation of Dr. Shireen Mazari from PTI underlines the difficulty of introducing a new political culture in Pakistan, where a failed political system is choking creativity, pushing Pakistan’s best and brightest out of the country and leaving a corrupt and inept elite to enjoy the spoils.

Dr. Mazari’s predicament is probably no different than the position of many Pakistani politicians from middle class background in other parties – Raza Rabbani, Syed Mushahid Hussain, Fozia Wahab, Sherry Rehman, Ahsan Iqbal, etc. They enter politics with difficulty and their chances of promotion inside their parties on merit to senior positions are bleak.

The only difference is that Dr. Mazari apparently refused to submit. Make no mistake, Mazari herself is from a feudal background but she pursued a career and a role in public life that does not conform to the feudal politics of her background. She is opposed to feudal monopoly on Pakistani politics. She is an accomplished academic and her political work on PTI’s platform went against the wishes of the feudal lords of her area Rajanpur, located at the intersection of Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan. Certainly no woman before her dared to politically challenge the feudals of her area.

Her surprise resignation from PTI was probably triggered by a little reported incident that occurred in her village in the third week of September when Imran Khan visited the region.


She had gathered around 1,000 poor peasants, most of them flood victims, to receive Khan as he arrived at the village. Apparently Khan was an hour’s drive away in the company of Jahangir Tareen, a wealthy feudal who had put his private jet at Khan’s disposal. Khan failed to show up and asked Mazari to ask the people to come again next morning. Furious, Dr. Mazari delivered a speech criticizing the influence of newcomers, turncoats who joined PTI after its sudden popularity surge. The next day the PTI chief passed by the village en route to Sindh.

The party issued Mazari a ‘show-cause notice’ and Imran Khan asked her to publicly apologize to Jahangir Tareen, according to Mazari’s letter of resignation.

Mazari’s complaint about the role and influence of the newcomers echoes the sentiments of many party members who feel old-style politicians – tested, tried and failed – have taken over a party that was supposed to introduce a more civilized form of politics in Pakistan.


Khan’s diehard fans argue that he won’t let failed politicians control his party. But this argument doesn’t cut much with the skeptics who feel Pakistan’s traditional feudal politicians are too shrewd and experienced for Khan and will eat him for lunch before he eats them for dinner.

And Mazari is a good case study. Refusing to submit to the newcomers, she began to face a series of challenges inside the party that come close to being harassment. She was being ignored for important assignments and a lobby was at work trying to create misunderstandings between her and Khan.

Nor is Mazari the only victim of the rising influence of traditional politicians inside PTI. The policy planning wings of the party and their technocrat members have largely been sidelined ever since the mass entry of feudal politicians.

Traditional politicians rushed to join the party early this year seeing the falling popularity of traditional parties, especially the ruling pro-US PPPP-MQM-ANP-PMLQ-PMLN coalition. These old politicians were also alarmed by the rise of the role of middle class Pakistanis–smart, patriotic and hardworking, who largely support PTI and Imran Khan.

But with the entry of traditional politicians, PTI is catching up on some unhealthy habits of other political parties like street violence and ugly political wall-chalking, things that PTI’s educated members shunned in the past.


Some lobbies within PTI are trying to portray Mazari’s departure as a consequence of the show-cause notice served to her after the village incident. But insiders know that Mazari resigned publicly at least twice in the past year due to policy differences. In her resignation letter she refers to the party’s positions on IMF loans and reminds Khan she joined the party only on the condition the party was committed to introducing new politics and new thinking into government.

Mazari’s departure does not hurt the party in any major way. But the moral dent is big. She represented the face of clean, new Pakistani politics, and her decidedly pro-Pakistan views on domestic and foreign policy issues make her widely respected by Pakistanis.

Apart from the traditional politicians, her exit will be well received by elements inside and outside Pakistan relieved at the fall of a strong voice for Pakistan on security and strategic issues.
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  • Naveed Awan  On September 27, 2012 at 1:44 am

    just wait for the time when Imran Khan himself resigns from PTI as party is already hijacked by hidden hands….. he is unfortunately going to have same fate as air marshal Asghar Khan.

  • Kausar Bajwa  On September 27, 2012 at 1:57 am

    She did the right thing. Imran needs to lubricate his stiff neck. He is flying too high. Oxygen depletes at that height and adversely effects decision making.

  • Rafiq Mian  On September 27, 2012 at 1:57 am

    What she did, however she did, her right to do whatever. Why this letter – does she feel bad for whatever she is doing – guilty conscience – you might say.

    One day in UN – ZAB tore a paper and walked out of the podium. I was young then. I made a statement then – though – “this guy is not civil”. I remember that and I do so in favor of Mazari.

    People come, people go; Pakistani politics is like a circus; unfortunately – not I – but the ones I interact with on this page – have a field day.

    My take: Our politicians for whatever the reason (perhaps – mostly their greed, this land, makayee, baajra, or just makeup of their brains) are lotas.

  • Rafiq Mian  On September 27, 2012 at 1:58 am

    Kausar Bajwa: Personal distaste about individuals for whatever reason – is better kept personal. I am sure you might find it hard – but try for a change – not easy for mundane Pakistanis. It unnecessarily invites recrimination and confrontation.

  • Qazi Ebadullah Khan  On September 27, 2012 at 1:59 am

    In my view this is the flavour of democracy. Be at peace with your conscience as this is YOUR decision.With part A,B C etc. No compulsions on anybody. Everyone of us are Pakistanis first and then our personal leanings towards a party and it’s leadership is based on the manifesto,past performance(s), capabilities,charisma and most importantly the ability to effectively deliver. Change brings new ideas and new challenges for passionate leaders to accomplish and He/She selects the team to follow the leader and achieve the results.

  • Rohail Butt  On September 27, 2012 at 2:08 am

    Thanks! I was really hoping a while back that he would be the change agent but he has lost his appeal. He eventually turned out to be pretty much the same as others politicians as he let the opportunists in.

  • Naveed Awan  On September 27, 2012 at 2:09 am

    and thats so unfortunate, that means next election is coming with same results …. just a thought of it even frustrates

  • Naghman Zuberi  On September 27, 2012 at 2:10 am

    I said it even in October 2011 that NO HOPE Whatsoever from him either….

  • Naveed Awan  On September 27, 2012 at 2:10 am

    aap tow berray ponchay huay hain phir ;)))

  • Naghman Zuberi  On September 27, 2012 at 2:11 am

    “IF” There will be ELECTIONS….
    Federal Again Choon Choon Ka Murabba Govt… PPP in Majority… Then MQM and ANP 7-9 seats each… PTI 2-3 seats… Q-League 2 seats

    Punjab: PPP and PTI Amalgamation

    Sind: PPP and MQM Amalgamation

    NWFP and Balochiostan NO CHANGE

  • Najma Sadique  On September 27, 2012 at 10:33 am

    That’s a shocker. what kind of followers is PTI seeking. Just sheep ? – NS

  • Shaheen  On September 27, 2012 at 10:34 am

    No goats !

  • Rauf  On September 27, 2012 at 10:35 am

    This is in fact like “rocking the boat at mid stream” Leaving aside person
    of caliber of Shireen Mazari is a blunder committed by Imran Khan.
    He sure to regret this act later on. In my opinion Imran Khan lost one of the
    most important asset of his party.

    • Faisal  On September 27, 2012 at 10:36 am

      Must reconcile
      Sent from my BlackBerry® Smartphone using Telenor Connection.

  • Ahsan Abbas  On September 27, 2012 at 10:37 am

    IF one reads the Resignation thoroughly, he could easily understand the reality of “Tsunami”

    IK is a very good Social Worker, used up by Establishment for their evil agenda

    so pathetic game

  • Majyd Aziz  On September 27, 2012 at 10:39 am

    PTI= Please Tolerate Imran

  • alia shahid  On September 27, 2012 at 11:44 am

    losing Mazari is not a small thing,have a heart IK why did you issue a show cause to someone of her calibre there are more civilized and courteous ways of doing the unwanted, you should regard her sentiments obviously those poor people had gathered to welcome you thats very callous on your part mr IK
    you need to explain as to why we should continue to support you.

  • Naghman Zuberi  On September 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    koi patta nahi ji mran Khan phir iss dafa election ka boycott ker dey , phir dekhiay ga yeh sab fasli bateray kesay bhagtay hain… thats an inside report ;))

  • Muhammad Zafar Chaudhry  On September 27, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    According to my understanding a politcal party is an association of like minded people who agree to work for a common political agenda.Its strength lies is in the content of the message and not the personalities who agree tocarry the message forward. As a corrollory comings in and goings away should not make more than a marginal difference.

    • Najma Sadique  On September 27, 2012 at 3:01 pm

      PTI started as a group of the like-minded but later added a lot of not-so-like-minded. I believe a number of people have left. That in itself should reflect on what’s not going right. – NS

  • Khalid Mumtaz  On September 27, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    She has resigned much later than she should have. PTI lost its credibility quite some time ago and any thinking person can discern that it is a status quo ‘alternative’ for the hapless poor of Pakistan. The poor are intelligent people and they have lost hope for a change via available choices. The next ‘elections’ will be managed as usual and the outcome after that is unpredictable.

  • Ardsher Alavia  On September 28, 2012 at 1:28 am

    Hi Yasmeen,

    Seems Imran is trying to peddle old wine in new bottles. By inducting the usual cast of tried and failed characters in his inner circle, he seems to have dashed the hope of those who saw in him as an agent of change. I for one saw great potential in him for the hope and change he promised the masses who flocked to his call.

    It seems even before coming to power he has diluted it, still I wish him success because all others have failed the people of Pakistan. Dr. Mazari is a woman of honour and courage who is a nationalist she should be applauded for her principled stand, her leaving PTI is Imran’s loss.

    Hope all is well with you.



  • Sagheer Ahmed  On September 28, 2012 at 1:29 am

    My Humble Views

    To understand Pakistan Politics, one has to understaess nd the Feudalism in Pakistan which for centuries has gone very deep rooted in the soil of Pakistan and to up root it is not that easy unless Allah wishes so and when HE will wish a LEADER will appear and shall do so but not Imran Khan. As a matter of fact the Democracy is a great protection to them(Fedul System ) because the constituency they are being so called elected is populated with the Mazaras of the Fedul Lord who is contesting election. That constituency is a Vote bank for the Feudal Lord. Without going into details may I say that right from Liaqat Ali’s killing to making of Bangladesh is because of the Mafia of the Feudal Lords of Pakistan.

    Even Bhutto had all the Feudal Lords with him in the name of socialism. Please do not forget that even Bhutto was a Feudal Lord and he made fool to the people of Pakistan. Ultimately he managed to get rid all those intellectuals from his Party who were from the middle class and not from Feudal Society.

    Similarly right from the beginning I am saying in my circle that Imran Khan never will be able to sweep the election without the support of the Vote Bank of Feudal Lords. With the passage of hundreds of years the Mazaras have been converted into diehard voters of their Feudal Lords.

    No one could ever understand the power of diehard voters, unless he or she has an experience of election on national level. I had diehard voters and all well educated in thousands of industries in Pakistan who used to cast their vote in favour of me against my opponents who used to be Minister or Governor or National Assembly Members. Well that is altogether is a different story. So coming back to the topic under discussion, now Imran Khan has realized that he cannot sweep or get enough seats in National Assemble unless he is allowed to use the vote bank of the Fedual Lords. Poor Imran Khan has no other alternative whether people in his Party like it or not.The people in his party must know that they do not have any vote bank which could help in getting them success and in return a seat to Imran’s Party.

    I do not find discipline in the party of Imran Khan. Whether some may like it or not but fact remains the discipline which I see in the JALSA of MQM, I have not seen in any other party.Any party without discipline is not a Party but could be something else.

    I do not know Dr.M.Shireen Mazari in person but off and on has been reading her articles and very much learned a lot . I have all the respect and regards for her and agree in total with her what she has explained in her resignation letter. I will not sympathize with her because she is not lost anything but I have all the sympathy for the poor Imran as he has lost a well learned personally and in return Imran Khan is getting the Feudal Lords who in the past ditched so many Party Leaders.I agree in total with the one who has stated :
    “Pakistan’s traditional feudal politicians are too shrewd and experienced for Khan and will eat him for lunch before he eats them for dinner”.
    Major(R)Sagheer Ahmed

  • Khan Sahib  On September 28, 2012 at 2:25 am

    She herself came from a feudal background but was never vocal for it. She represented the few voices of sanity which still remain in the failed nation, but suddenly realized that Imran and sidekicks were using her as a poster girl of “new and clean politics” while in reality she was washing their dirty laundry. It was time to throw in the towel….sad but more than the resignation itself, she made it a point to explain why she was leaving. I think that is significant.


  • Naghman Zuberi  On September 28, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    change always need collective effort . criticism about wrong & bad practices is positive approach, just imagine if all of us just let every bad thing go then it would become a norm which is almost equal to suicide for a society.

  • Nasia Kazi  On September 28, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    have faith in yourself do your best,each drop counts,allah ka dar dil main paida karain,society say darna chor dain,apnay ird gird change laain by practice,by being a role model,start doing rather than lecturing or criticizing

  • Muhammad Nadeem  On September 28, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    NK without differing any view, just for understanding, if we as a community adopt the character which u are saying above, how long will it take to rectify our national characteristics or at least when we can see some clear path/direction. Lectures and critics shows the ability of the community and I suppose we should appreciate these things.

  • Naveed Awan  On September 28, 2012 at 1:47 pm

    change always need collective effort . criticism about wrong & bad practices is positive approach, just imagine if all of us just let every bad thing go then it would become a norm which is almost equal to suicide for a society.

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