By Zafar Ahmad
The entry of the PTI in national politics is indeed a very positive development. The slogan of ‘change’ definitely gave hope to the voters who were disappointed from the corrupt practices of the two mainstream parties. The charismatic personality of the movement’s head, Imran Khan, had a spell-like impact upon the youths and urban educated class who usually had little interest in the business of politics. This, no doubt, was an unprecedented development in our political history. The PTI rightly deserves credit for this. However, later development made many youths skeptical of the policies which the party followed.
First of all, the party introduced the culture of criticism which was essential for breaking stagnation in politics and expediting the pace of development. This culture promoted ‘political awareness’ among the citizens. Moreover, it not just exposed the corrupt politicians and their corrupt practices but the fear of the party also put immense pressure on the sitting government to deliver which otherwise might not have happened. However, it their rigorous use of criticism ‘as a weapon’ the PTI tigers ignored that it was a two-way process which bears fruits only when the critics tolerate it for themselves too. The tigers can drag their opponents on the media but would get offended if anyone dared to criticize them or the party’s policies.
Secondly, the genuine issues identified by the party soon let the party to the peak of fame among the educated mass. However, sooner rather than later the party sought the assistance of the empire. Playing a fixed game had usually been the culture of N-League which Imran Khan himself expressed many a times. This was the first U-turn which the ‘agent of change’ had adopted. The infamous sit-in of 2014 was the practical manifestation of this. Since then the party has never left any stone unturned no prove its loyalty to the empire. By joining of hands with the PPP in senate election, whose role was extremely shameful during senate election, the party distanced itself from those voters who believe in ‘civilian supremacy’. The tigers get offended when this point is highlighted; yet, they boost how the party contributed in electing the first senator from the marginalized province.
The party was given a chance to prove it dose of ‘change’ in the laboratory of KP. During its five years tenure the party introduced many reforms in the service sector especially in education and health. Jobs were created and the youths were recruited through fair means. While civil servants in management sectors were upgraded to make the service delivery more ‘efficient and effective’. Corruption was indeed curbed. However, in development sector the provincial government failed to deliver much. In most cases the government was unable to utilize the developmental budget. By the end of its tenure the Peshawar metro is started. The budget of the project has been estimated to be double of the projects which the Punjab government had been allocating. The tigers would go harsh on their critics if asked how ‘metro’ in Punjab is wrong and good in ‘KP’.
With the approaching of election lots of seasonal opportunists, lotaas (turncoats) are flocking towards the PTI. By accepting them the party seems to adopt the culture which it had been claiming to change. The most notorious lota was Farooq Bandial – a convicted gang rapist, who was soon expelled after the harsh backlash from the social media. It could be said that by expelling the rapist the party followed the most cherished moral and political norms. However, imagine had Bandial been given ticket had there been no backlash in the media. The tigers took harsh notice of their critics. Nonetheless, by embracing and then expelling a rapist the party exposed a culprit who had managed to defy the justice system.
Besides, one should not offend the tigers by asking the status of those Patwaris, who have recently joined the party. The Patwaris after leaving the N-League can no longer be called the Patwaris, they may have been promoted to tehsildar ranks.
Finally, there is the democratic norm – the civilian supremacy. The PPP despite its corrupt practices has been supported by many educated people just because it has sacrificed much for the sake of this cherished political norm. Recently, the N-League has been able to create the impression that it has been punished for trying to establish civilian supremacy. On the other hand, the PTI seems to following the dictations from the empire. It is doing what the N-League had been doing in 90s – dismantle the sitting government and have a puppet role for itself. In short, the PTI is there where the N-League had been in 90s while the N-League is attempting to be there where the PPP had been in 90s. While, the PPP has lost its spirit somewhere in between the two.Buying senators and manipulating senate elections was the worst thing the PPP ever committed in its political history.
To sum up, the sensational entry of the PTI in the national politics was spectacular. The party could be credited for some of the good values it introduced in our political system. However, there are lots of other things for which it could be rightly criticized. The tigers need to understand that the party could be criticized the way they criticize others. Accepting criticism and correcting one’s direction is how movements evolve successfully. Despite all, the emergence of the PTI is appreciable and it could be hoped its PTI’s evolution will be fruitful both for the party as well as for the country.