Imran Khan’s recent decision to make his Lahore residence the base of the party’s current operations instead of Banigala from where he ran the country as PM has been forced by two realities facing the PTI and its chairman. Both are tied to Punjab. There is the uncertainty surrounding the future of PTI’s government in Punjab that Ch Pervez Elahi is currently fully in-charge of, is maintaining a semi-diplomatic ‘my way or the highway’ approach towards Imran Khan’s confidence vote and assembly dissolution insistence. Imran Khan would ideally prefer to be closer to the action. Then there is the fear of arrest in Islamabad, bailable warrants for which were issued by the ECP on contempt charges yesterday against Imran Khan and two senior members of the party. There is also the issue of mobility owing to his leg injury which evidently is taking more time than expected to fully heal for the plaster cast to come off. In the process of trying to force early elections and maintain relevance in the political arena, there is an increasing reliance on amplifying the party policy of attacking the PDM and specific institutions. Ironically, the intensity and frequency of the controversial accusations and insinuations that make up this onslaught seem to be feeding off of how ineffective this policy has so far been, as it continues to increasingly become hyperbolic and unsupported by evidence.
Perhaps it is time to change tack and focus on the task at hand: general elections at the end of this year. One example of this is the white paper that the PTI has put forward on the economy through former Finance Minister Shaukat Tareen, which is an important dissection of the current economic predicament the country faces. When it first got a proper shot and playing the role of an effective opposition, the PTI delivered by maintaining a fair balance (minus the dharna days) between unparliamentary provocative rhetoric and legitimate criticism of the government’s policies. Of late, there has been an alarming tilt in messaging aimed solely at polarizing an already overly-polarized electorate, taking inappropriate digs at opponents and general character assassination through social media trolling. A more mature PTI that brings correction to this imbalance will be a more mature national party that contributes to, rather than takes away from, the democratic evolution and development of the country. Such change begins from the very top and unfortunately there is no indication of such sudden character reform to happen.