Risk and reward

Will PTI’s latest strategy pay off?

After months of protest through regular well-attended public gatherings that culminated in a ‘Long March’ that fell victim to an assassination attempt where the party chairman too was wounded, the PTI has, for the time being, ended its street agitation against the PDM government, aimed at forcing it to resign. But the primary motivation behind the campaign was never to send the government packing, rather delay the appointment of the next Army Chief or at least influence the choice through external pressure. None of this was achieved; the PML(N) along with the PPP and JUI-F is still in power at the centre and the, Gen Asim Munir took charge yesterday as the new COAS, for the next three years, and he was not Imran Khan’s choice, having fired him back in 2019 from the post of DG ISI owing to ‘irreconcilable differences’.

With no operative narrative left other than badmouthing his civilian opponents, Imran Khan’s announcement to dissolve the Punjab and KP assemblies and resign from the rest was the only route left to take as it would, on paper, force the ECP and the federal government to announce early elections, rather than holding by-elections on more than half of provincial assembly seats in the country would be a financial and logistical nightmare. That no formal instructions have been passed to the Chief Ministers for dissolution thus far indicates that even the PTI is aware of the political risk involved. Imran Khan is banking on his popularity and believes it to be at its peak currently and hence wants elections at the earliest. Even if not full simultaneous general elections, then Punjab and KP provincial elections will do. But there must also be a realization that if there is a miscalculation, he ends up losing Punjab to the PML(N). This step could be an overestimation of his popularity, and underestimation of the opponent’s position in the province or perhaps even the fear of the establishment, despite claiming to have mended its ways, playing the same old role of ‘kingmaker’.

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The PTI is banking on a new strategy of adding extreme parliamentary tactics to its arsenal of power politics. The PML(N) is looking to use legal measures at its disposal to thwart the PTI. It would be ideal if the two use a more conventional form of Parliament; that of mutually beneficial decision making through consultation. Unfortunately, it seems that ship has sailed far away, with no return in sight.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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