PTI’s decline

Imran Khan had the opportunity to ‘show case’ exemplary governance in KP. But he missed his chance because focused entirely on the ouster of Nawaz Sharif

After 2011, the PTI became a third mainstream political party in Pakistan. Especially, for the first, the floating voters got an alternate option apart from the conventional parties.

Somehow, PTI lost the election to form a government in the centre. But it managed to score almost 77 lac votes. PTI arose as the second biggest political party in terms of vote bank.

Imran Khan’s campaign mostly revolved around anti-Nawaz and anti-Zardari rhetoric. It is the true reason why PTI gained the heavy space in the political dispensation. Apart from it, there were two other factors involved; the bad governance of the PPP led coalition government; secondly, Imran Khan was never tried by the people of Pakistan.

People who voted for Imran Khan had lofty hopes. As his slogan was ‘Naya Pakistan’. However, PTI formed government in KP. Therefore, people expected a ‘Naya KP’.

Imran Khan had the opportunity to ‘show case’ KP province as an exemplary governance. But he missed it. Instead of doing so, Imran focused entirely on the ouster of Nawaz Sharif.

Khan was more consistent on destabilising the PMLN government rather than spending time to deal with the flaws in KP governance. His scheme was to arrange jalsas on weekly basis and spew venom against Nawaz Sharif and occasionally, against Asif Zardari.

The results of Lodhran by election have made it all clearly visible.The writing is now on the wall. If Imran makes false promises, people will not come out to vote for him. PTI took their voters for granted

PTI leadership speeches were more hate oriented and less aligned around development plan in the province. It is a very prominent story that Khan once asked people of Bannu during jalsa that did the KP police got better. People loudly chanted, NO. For almost 4 years, PTI chased back on PMLN government and just one year before the election realizes to initiate the ‘jangla bus’ service in Peshawar. Sarcastically, it was jangla bus until Shahbaz Sharif was building across Punjab.

Chairman PTI is rightly known as as Mr. U-turn for not standing on his promise. During last December, Khan’s close confident Jehangir Tareen got clean bowled by the apex court. It was another litmus test for the Chairman PTI. As Khan explicitly told to quit as party chairman if disqualified or take resignation from JKT if disqualified.

Moving ahead, instead of taking resignation after disqualification from JKT, he gave ticket on the vacant seat to his son Ali Khan Tareen. PTI was well known for fighting against status quo, but failed to stand and got hold of lootas in the party. Secondly, Khan is against nepotism in political parties which has always given edge to PTI.

However, on JKT disqualification this promise also remained unfulfilled. But on the other side, Khan took high pedestal on Nawaz disqualification. But Mr Khan forgets the same grounds when his party member was disqualified under the same law.

Similarly, Chairman PTI grabbed political mileage on the amendment in election act according to which a disqualified person will not be barred to hold party chairman office. The criticism of Khan was justifiable but when court gave verdict against JKT. Imran Khan shouldn’t have defended JKT disqualification and must have taken resignation.

PTI was famous to have clean and non-corrupt leader. But as the time move forward, PTI became a dry cleaning party for corrupt politicians. Sadly, many of them now sit beside him. Majority of the leaders have been tried in different regime (especially PPP) and failed to deliver. Eventually credibility graph of Imran Khan is descending, according to Pulse Consultant survey and Gallup Pakistan. And just few months before general election which will be hammered by his rivalries to damage his vote bank. People expected a new style of politics. Unfortunately, Imran Khan has failed to differentiate his politics from Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari politics. Incumbent party CEC is full of ‘lootas’ (opportunist). And the results of Lodhran by election have made it visible, writing is on the wall. If Imran Khan makes false promises, people will not come out to vote for him. PTI took their voters for granted.

The situation for PTI looks worsen, as the elections are few months ahead. No major changes made in party organization to gavel the vote bank of other political parties.

PTI must come out of Punjab. As many PTI insider from different province have the complaint of Khan’s Punjab centric behaviour. They have a KP government and got almost 13 lack votes from Karachi. But obviously, Punjab decides the formation of government in the capital. Therefore, it is the focus and till today. In 2013, PTI lost for not distributing tickets rightly. And in 2018, they lost in Lodhran because of the contradictory promises and u-turns.

The writer is an academic. He tweets @muhd_hani

Published in Daily Times, February 21st 2018.