When it comes to the way the PTI works, there is little that differentiates it from dynastic politics. As in the case of Shehbaz Sharif, the Election Commission had to goad Imran Khan to hold intra-party polls. Again, as is the practice in dynastic parties, elections of PTI’s office bearers were more of a farce than a genuine polling. There was no voting for the slot of the party chief as in a well- orchestrated move those leading the other two contesting panels withdrew in favour of Imran Khan.
The holding of intra-party elections indicates the PTI is now ready for general elections. Having no grass root party structures, the PTI lost in the first phase of KP’s local government elections. The party improved its position in the second round when Mr Khan addressed several large gatherings raising the spectre of a foreign conspiracy against the country and calling upon the audience to conduct a jihad against the thieves and traitors by voting for his candidates.
Mr Khan wants to use the same tactics to win the general elections despite having developed doubts about their success. He has promised to give a date for the ‘biggest protest in Pakistan’s history’ within the next few days. With the PML(N)-led coalition ruling the country and the establishment being still neutral, Mr Khan knows he has a tough journey ahead. He lost face when the last march that was to bring over two million protesters to Islamabad simply fizzled out. What is more, the violence committed by PTI activists despite an undertaking to remain peaceful created a bad impression among the judiciary. Mr Khan is still not sure if he would get a clean chit from the Supreme Court to hold the biggest march in history.
Mr Khan is worried about two things. He fears that attempts are being made to get the PML(N)-led alliance elected, without telling who is making the attempts. Second, he is afraid of the independence shown by the Election Commission. Wouldn’t it be better for Mr Khan to hold talks with the opposition to work out a date for elections?