- A lesson for political parties and establishment
The humiliation of the PTI in Ladhran must not lead the PML-N to close eyes to its weaknesses. Various reasons are being ascribed to PTI’s failure. Nawaz Sharif maintains that the results are a response to false cases against him. Khursheed Shah has sarcastically remarked that the PTI workers have rejected dynastic politics. Others ascribe the PTI debacle to the age, inexperience and little time spent by the PTI candidate in the constituency. It would however be unwise to conclude that the Lodhran bye-polls reflect the public mood prevailing in each one of the 141 constituencies of Punjab.
The PTI has accepted the defeat without customary allegations of rigging. It is also encouraging to note that Imran Khan has called upon party leaders to utilise the setback to analyse mistakes, correct them and come back stronger. There is also a need on the part of Imran Khan to ponder over why a fairly big chunk of the middle class youth who had been politicised by him and who then worked hard for the party in 2013 elections and later sit-ins have now lost steam even if they have not said goodbye to the party. He has also to realise that there is a need on his part to employ a number of tactics to expose the government instead of being seen as a one-trick pony. Further, that a leader in a democratic polity is required to display flexibility and the capacity to make alliances.
The establishment needs to realise the dangers posed by the entry of some of the extremist networks in electoral politics. The increasing use of democratic freedoms by these elements to spread narrow-mindedness and anti-democratic trends must not be encouraged. After Lahore, Peshawar and Chakwal, one of these networks has achieved a third, albeit distant, position in the Lodhran by polls also.
The PPP which has been claiming that it was going to win this time in Punjab also has once again suffered embarrassment and that too in a South Punjab constituency. The party leadership would do well to undertake serious soul searching instead of whistling in the wind.