The last one year for PTI’s tsunami
This critique and evaluation is not about the person but about the policies and standards Imran Khan has set so far. The last one year has been extremely phenomenal for Imran Khan’s PTI as it rose and ranked at an extremely rapid pace. Imran Khan’s struggle which kicked off on the basis of principles and anti status quo mantra finally earned him some results. The success of dharnas against drones started getting the attention and the sentiment paid off, as PTI holds a good ground on the country’s political spectrum. Imran Khan has established himself as a crowd puller and the master of bashing. Imran Khan captivated the masses not with his haywire speeches but with his persona as The Imran Khan. The jalsa at Quetta was yet another testament of this success. However, it again had less substance and more bashing.
Treating PTI as a modern day rocket, it ran the risk of being mishandled and that’s exactly what happened with it. Even Mr Khan admits that PTI went out of control after the historic Lahore jalsa. Lahore’s jalsa was perhaps the first time when Imran Khan realised that he had the sharpest knife in his hand to cut the support of his proclaimed political opponents. Interestingly, this also was the time when Imran Khan’s self defeating moves triggered off. IK claimed way back in 1990s in his first election campaign that “Pakistani qaum dobara wo andhera nehi daikhna chahay ge. Azmayay hoay logon ko dobaara nei azmayay ge”, meaning that the people of Pakistan wouldn’t want to elect the tested and old faces in politics. It was completely the opposite that happened after 30th October 2011. The infamous “coalition of crooks” is now a part of the PTI.
The ideological supporters of PTI were deeply astounded by the moves IK made. They believed that Imran Khan should have challenged the might with what he had, the gusto and passion of new faces. I find them right in saying that people came for Imran Khan and not for Mian Azhar and Mian Mehmood ur Rasheed. If IK is right to say, which he is, that it’s the leadership which makes the policies and standards to follow, then why take these relics of the past on board.
Make no mistake that Lagharis, Tareens, Kasuris, Qureshis and Hashmis are nothing but relics of the past and IK’s change agency would always struggle with them. Not just these big names but people who were once Nazims in Musharaff’s regime are now part of PTI. They don’t cling on to PTI for a national cause but for their own political survival. Their role was marginalised in their parent parties hence they found themselves a new band wagon. However, there is nothing wrong with this practice if one does power politics but it simply doesn’t go with IK’s rhetoric of change. Remember, IK wooed to change the system and wasn’t just power hungry. I still condone whatever has taken place so far since Imran Khan puts up a valid defence that his Parliamentary Panel will have the final word in giving tickets. However, I have reasons to be doubtful about it.
Taking it further, PTI’s response on 20th Amendment was again a case of misplaced anger. Firstly, the passage of 20th Amendment was necessary after the Supreme Court’s clear instructions regarding the fate of 28 seats of national and provincial assemblies. Secondly, after the 20th Amendment, the role of the President of the country, who IK had all the doubts about, in forming caretaker setup, was completely taken out and was shaped into a multi staged process. It’s not someone’s fault that PTI doesn’t have any representation in the Parliament so far.
Moreover, IK’s decision to boycott the bye-elections was again a gross miscalculation. PTI boycotted under the pretext that the electoral rolls had not been revised and carried fake voters list. Firstly, this was a case of misinformation for PTI and IK. The Election Commission had revised the electoral rolls of the constituencies where the bye-elections were held. The SC was informed and the Election Commission had even issued a press release in this regard. For instance, just in PS 57-Badin, 27000 duplicate votes were taken out. Now either Election Commission is lying or IK had been misinformed in this regard. Secondly, PTI lost what could have been an excellent litmus test for IK’s voters turn out. The stalwarts like Shah Mehmood Qureshi have been found dreading and criticising this decision by PTI.
Nevertheless, PTI should now make all the efforts to translate the strength of its rallies and jalsas into electoral votes. The membership campaign by PTI is a welcome move and it will enable the leadership to devise a strategy for the upcoming general elections. I hope Mr Khan is mindful of people’s expectations which have simply gone to another level. The words like “Hope” and “Change” have a different meaning in Pakistan’s politics now.
The writer hosts a prime time talk show. He can be contacted at [email protected]