Dawn News

PTI’s amateur hour

IF you need any proof that Mr Imran Khan is not ready to wield power, much less execute complex ‘plans’ for the economic revival of this country, look no further than the conundrum in which he finds himself in the ongoing talks on selecting an interim prime minister.

First Mr Khan complained on various TV talk shows that the two big parties — the PML-N and PPP — were not reaching out to him when deciding on the interim prime minister.

Then we hear from the PML-N that Mr Khan had provided them with names of his preferred candidates. Then Mr Khan denied having any contact with the PML-N. Then the latter released the two names in question, and also revealed the names of the people through whom Mr Khan’s wishes had been communicated.

So has Mr Khan been talking on the sly with the very party he loves to vilify? And if so, why is it so hard for him to admit it? And why would he complain that the big parties are not consulting him when deciding this important matter?

The fact is that Mr Khan has painted himself into a corner and cannot figure out how to get out of it. He has presented himself as a candidate above politics, but at the same time has to navigate the facts of life in a parliamentary democracy, which are always negotiated. Now that the negotiations have begun, and will only grow in scope and complexity as the election cycle unfolds, he is left fumbling for a response.

There is plenty that is going to be negotiated from here onwards. A date for when the polls will be held is next on the agenda, after the composition of the interim government has been agreed upon, and at least one party — the PML-N — has already announced its preference for the date to be “no later than January”. Does Mr Khan intend to participate in these parleys, or does he intend to sit them out too?

Of course, the real negotiations will begin after election day. A lot will depend on the new parliamentary arithmetic that emerges from the election, but notice once again how the PTI is the only party that has revealed what its post-election strategy is going to be.

In multiple forums, Mr Khan has clearly stated that his party will either form the next government on their own or will sit in opposition. On no account, he says, will his party consider becoming a coalition partner with the PML-N or the PPP, although in a June rally in Mirpurkhas he opened the door to forming a government with the Jamaat-i-Islami.

This is vintage Khan: no compromise, no middle ground, no negotiation. This is either supreme self-confidence or supreme amateurishness. It makes no sense in a parliamentary democracy to tie your own hands by staking out such rigid positions so early in the game.

One is also puzzled by his insistence that the mainstream parties like the PML-N- and PPP are responsible for the mess the country is in, but the JI is not. If the mainstream parties are morally repugnant, how come there’s no feeling of shame in walking to the residence of Sheikh Rashid to form an electoral alliance?

By insisting on forming his own government, with only minor parties as allies, Mr Khan is trying to create a moment whose last parallel was seen in the 1997 elections, when Mr Sharif’s PML had swept into power with a massive mandate — a two-thirds majority in parliament. But it’s important to note an important difference between that election and this one. At that time, Mr Sharif’s party was the only one contesting in Punjab besides the PPP, whereas this time there are four major parties in the biggest province , an unprecedented state of affairs in Pakistan’s political history.

Since Punjab’s share of seats in the National Assembly is critical to building a viable majority, and since it is unlikely that any one player is going to sweep the province the way Mr Sharif did in 1997, it follows that no single party will emerge with the numbers to ‘go it alone’ in the aftermath of the election.

It will take deft negotiation to form the next government, and skilful politics to hold it together, but Mr Khan has already opted out of the process saying time and time again that he will not enter a coalition with the mainstream parties.

Clearly it is Mr Khan’s right to choose his style of politics and his coalition partners. But in a parliamentary democracy it is always wise to keep channels of communication open with all players and not to wall yourself off behind red lines.

It’s possible to see a contradiction behind his refusal to talk to the mainstream parties on the grounds that they are “responsible for the mess the country is in” whilst he signals his willingness to engage with parties that have been active players in the growing encroachment of religious injunctions in the spheres of law, policy and politics.

But there is always the question of whether ‘corruption’ has created more of a mess than the fanning of religious fears and animosities in this country.

Mr Khan’s predicament is set to become more and more difficult as the election cycle wears on. His fondness for taking hard and rigid positions, then looking for ways to climb down from them will not serve him well.

And it’ll be the same if the time should come for him to implement his ‘plan’ for the country’s economic revival, where politics and negotiation also play a crucial part in carrying a large agenda forward.

This is amateur politics, and the sooner Mr Khan is able to shed this style, the better off his party is going to be in the realities of Pakistan’s parliamentary politics.

The writer is a Karachi-based journalist covering business and economic policy.

khurram.husain@gmail.com Twitter:@khurramhusain

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Comments (62) Closed

Sep 20, 2012 07:48pm
Agreed but astonished what do you expect of Pakistani Media who are on payroll of authorities, Businessmen and mercy of feudal class.
Sep 20, 2012 09:25pm
Khurram, is right politics is art of possible otherwise there is a no need of Ex ppp,pml top men in the pti .khan shab has accepted it and said they r winnable
Sep 21, 2012 10:56am
Watever. Vote for Imrran Khan. :))
Sep 21, 2012 08:21am
In the given time IK is far more better choice for the country ,and i must say these kind of writers can be found in hundreds in this country but we the people of this country should not lose our sight from our goal which is to give a chance to some one who can be trusted to lead us to a better life , a dignified life .
Sep 21, 2012 02:02am
the two parties PPP and PML N have been tried and tested, and have failed to the highest level. Imran Khan has not been tried and tested. These 2 main parties are working together, do u really think that PPP and PML N will play it fair? do u really think that both parties will want free and fair elections?
Sep 20, 2012 04:45pm
Completely disagree more with the basic premise of the article. Imran Khan is 10 times more ready to take power than Benazir was in 1988 (at the age of 36 with zero experience) And Imran Khan is a 100 times more ready to take power than Asif Zardari was in 2007.
Sep 20, 2012 11:27am
Sep 20, 2012 11:13am
here we go again........another classic case of Writer's googly gone all wrong. go fetch the ball son, IK has smashed it outside the stadium.
Waqas M
Sep 20, 2012 11:09am
The very fact that all guns are pointed at Tahreek-e-Insaaf and Imran Khan now (previously PPP was all smiling for the supposed damage TI was causing PML-N and PML-N always called on TI as the
Bilal Choudry (@bilalchd)
Sep 20, 2012 11:42am
dont agree with the opinion at all ... khan will loose his edge as soon as he starts to look like the rest .. .and the fact remains that there had been no formal communication between PMLN and PTI ... also it is also very clear that khan has said that he is in favour of working together with anti status quo parties .. now which part of it the author fails to understand ?
Mukkaram Qureshi
Sep 20, 2012 10:54am
Imran Khan is only telling what is wrong with others what is good about him we dont know untill he came to power which is a big if. From where he will get almost 1000 candidates capable of contesting elactions for National & Provincial Asseblies is better known to him. Other problem with him is that he is "me" person just like anyother head of political party in Pakistan. He has done nothing in the province of Sindh especially Rural Sindh so even he get 1000 candidates he has no ground work in Rural Sindh & Balochistan. For urban Sindh he is relying on the left-over seats of MQM so how would he get in power is a big question.
Sep 20, 2012 10:47am
Our youth has no idea of the history, they only follow the rhetorics of the media. PPP has always been bashed by the Media and Judiciary. All the conspiracies has been against PPP in the past, no other party has faced it. Right wing has been an easy target. All those people who took part it forming IJI also loved Zia ul Haq. All those people who loved Zia ul Haq also loved Nawaz Sharif and got him twice in to power even though he doesnt know a pinch of Politics. Same people are craving for Imran Khan this time. Believe me or not, same people will be cursing Imran Khan very soon. Until then Media will bring them another Toy to play with. Problem with the Left wing is they have no choice but to vote for PPP.
Sep 20, 2012 10:29am
Boss I am sick of this unusual criticism because u all actually represents status quo. And to negotiate with main stream parties simply means PTI and Ik is compromising on his agenda of change. Then u all so called writers will start criticisng him for that move. So be clear on your statements. And we are not blind followers, the problem with the common man of this country is he/she has no other option left so unfortunately or fortunately we have to follow him blindly. Geo IK...
Sep 20, 2012 05:29pm
I fail to understand that all those criticizing IK have suddenly woken up after the Lahore jalsa. IK is an amateur in politics but AAZ is a master player in the art of politics. He has single handedly managed the Army, NS and Judiciary. Look where he has gotten us. Puleez you can keep the master player , we want somebody who is simple, honest and sincere!!!!!!!!!
Sep 20, 2012 10:06am
Mr. Hassan, Get ready for a failed first PTI government (if not in 2013 elections then in 2018). PTI cannot deliver. Pakistan is not in need of new political parties. We already have too many. The existing parties need to be revamped to suit 21st century.
ikramullah khan (@ikramullahk)
Sep 20, 2012 10:00am
Imran Khan is the voice of change. His decisions his ideology everything is different. Supporters and beneficiar of status co will always find it hard to grasp.
Sep 20, 2012 09:15am
The writer seems to have forgotten that who we are and what we should do as a muslim nation. If we claim to be one. If we are muslim so is it wrong to follow principles. What the writer is defending is the only thing that has brought us to the position we are today. Can this kind of article be written in a european country or USA. I totally believe that he would have got bashing that he would never forget. Sir please let the younger generation run on principles rather than your pragmatics. We should honour truth. Imran gives us hope in the younger generation. The sharifs even if i believe are honest, which I dont, by the way are totally incompetent to lead a nation. Nations never build on compromises, they are built on principles.
Tahir Alam
Sep 20, 2012 09:13am
Agreed. The choice is simple.
Sep 20, 2012 09:06am
Stop criticizing on him, if you really care, criticize on those who are looting your country every single day. What has he done wrong? He is not in government. This criticism is above my head. C'mon
Sep 20, 2012 09:01am
Mr. writer before you say blind followers you should think twice. Why we like Imran khan, reason is simple, He is honest and patriotic. for others i would say "Enough is enough". and yes He should not make any alliance with anyone because his objective is not only to come into power. His objective is to change Pakistan.
Sep 20, 2012 09:01am
I feel the article is unfair, its pointing to double speak and chaos, a pakistani trait not necessarily a PTI trait. Its an art the PML and PPP have been doing for years. I hardly think its fair only to level such accusations at the PTI.
meekal a ahmed
Sep 20, 2012 08:38am
very good.
Sep 20, 2012 08:22am
The writer is clearly more fond of the characterless politics prevailing in the country since independence. Like a vast majority of this country, he can't support politics based on some ideologies and principals; a mindset against which Khan has been raising the slogan of "CHANGE". One got to understand that Khan in his own words is an "Idealist and a Dreamer". He won't compromise on his principals for which he has been standing alone for the last 15 years. He'd rather prefer to sit on the opposition benches waiting for the next elections than getting a share in the government.
Capt C M Khan
Sep 20, 2012 08:04am
You cannot start learning cricket at the age of 30 and hope to be an intenrational star. Similarly you cannot be a skilled politican if you start late in life. Imran started Politics at the age of 38 and is still learning. The best he can do is win enough seats to lead a good opposition and act like a pressure group, this will benefit Pakistan. Excellent article.
Sep 20, 2012 07:46am
The problem is, Imran Khan, has confused the traditional politics with the revolutionary, and he is trying to woo the support from both. The 'veteran voters' will, this election, again vote their 'lords' while the revolutionists are divided now whether they should vote for Khan or do not vote at all. Difficult time for PTI, but i foresee that near and at the time, of election, Tsunami will rise.
Sep 20, 2012 06:22pm
Hear! Hear!
Sep 20, 2012 07:39am
Mr PTI Khan , has started to learn the Pakistani Politics , the hard way ( all hard ways are his own creation by the way ! ) YET one should give him a chance to prove himself right what he stands for or otherwise . The nation has been giving Chance after chance to proven cheats and defaulters for the past 6+ decades so here is a new one trying his level best to pose a better side of the Pakistani political game , Why not give him a benefit of doubt and put the torch in his hand , if we can afford 2 times for corrupt Nawaz league and PPP and a 3rd time for the corrupt of the corrupt known or reported to be known among the national leaders , Why not give a one term chance to a person who is supposed to be Mr Clean as such and a proven Mr humane service oriented . So I will vote for him just to be different this time around ( I had voted for PPP 3 times , twice for the father and once for the daughter , But Never again and for Nawaz league , never ever )
Sep 20, 2012 07:28am
I dont understand all this shallow criticism on Khan. The author is clearly biased and judging Imran Khan
Sep 20, 2012 07:04am
people like you and author dont understand principals do you ? or the only principal you got is sell your soul to the highest bidder.
Sep 20, 2012 07:03am
analogy is hilarious but true
Sep 20, 2012 07:00am
@ Usman I totally agree. The choice is very simple... if i agree with IK opponents on all the allegations.. Even then he is a far far better choice than NS and Zardari.
Agha Ata
Sep 20, 2012 06:06pm
We all start as amateurs, especially in politics. Besides, how many economists do we have among politicians of the world? All what I know is that Imran Khan is a potential leader we need (period) --you know that and I know that. Lets not turn our uneducated public against him. You have none else to take his place. You and I know that, too.
Sep 20, 2012 06:33am
bang on!
Sep 20, 2012 05:39am
Forget IK! 20 years back I started thinking about him coming with some change in real situation but he still need to learn simple handling of political chaos. The only good thing is that he could be the "reason" for improvement in other major political parties.
Sohaib YAHIA
Sep 20, 2012 05:04am
An excellent article; much food for thought for Mr. Khan and his blind followers! Arrogance and authoritarian style might have helped in making the eleven individuals disciplined and win the Cricket World Cup but winning the hard battle of life faced by millions here require a bit of humility and true understanding of the diversity and magnitude of the issues one has to deal with once in power.
Sep 20, 2012 04:32am
Yes, and the sooner you return to writing about the economy the better.
Sep 20, 2012 05:54pm
he is still a better choice then the corrupt dishonest leader te country has at present.
Usman Ajmal (@dodgy_helmet)
Sep 20, 2012 03:47am
Imran Khan's fault is he is trying to sell a Roll Royce vision to a public than only understands Rickshaw and is unwilling to accept where it stands today. The author is clearly used to Pakistan's old style politics of dishonesty and deception and that is the yard stick he is using to judge IK's suitability as a PM.
Usman Ajmal (@dodgy_helmet)
Sep 20, 2012 03:44am
So the criteria for running a country successfully is to be able to cheat and malign your opponents while doing double-talk to the public? Then NS and Zardari are best for this country. If on the other hand, you want a person who is an excellent administrator, great leader and has a vision, but is not well-trained in the Pakistani art of deception, then go for Imran Khan. The choice is simple.
Nawab Manzar
Sep 20, 2012 06:01pm
Mr. Shahid Latif's point is well taken. However, the main point highlighted here is, no matter what your personal style or character may be, in the parliamentary system of government, you should be able to communicate with other parties with professional courtesy and with compromising attitude (Not compromising your principles), Mr. Khan is a voice of change, of course. He deserves recognition for it. However, to be a leader of change, he must earn the credentials of a persuader
Sep 20, 2012 06:44pm
Imran Khan will not be able to provide a cure for all that ails our very very sick nation. The writer's criticism is based on what is right for democracy and traditional politics. I am sick of traditional politics and it's "wise" courses and actions. I will vote for Imran Khan to give him a chance, any sane person should. What has the PPP and PML or for that matter any other party done in the past that they should be voted back into power? It is insanity to vote for those who have completely failed in the past. When people go to cast their vote they should remember that nothing will change if we don't get rid of these failing baffoons.... and take responsibility for the fact that if things have gone wrong in the past, it has been due to our mistakes for selecting the wrong people to lead us...it's time to give someone else/someone different to have a go.
Sep 20, 2012 06:46pm
I believe that he has to make some clear view points where he wants to go especially on the war on terror. he has to find a mix of east and west. there is no way out to make one line decision that will only destiny his team and efforts. i can just pray that he may have learn from his rigidity
Gh. Mujtaba
Sep 20, 2012 02:36pm
nice reply . keep it up. long live KIng Kaptan SIr Dr iMRan khan
Sep 20, 2012 07:10pm
Well said Shahid. looking at some of these articles, sometimes I think that we don
Akhter Husain
Sep 20, 2012 07:10pm
Yes there is going to be a change, not the change of heart or governance but the change of a few faces who will be eager to become as rich as others.
Akhter Husain
Sep 20, 2012 07:13pm
So right you are.
Sep 20, 2012 01:47pm
Sep 20, 2012 01:49pm
Excellent. very well said.
Sep 20, 2012 02:08pm
This article is intellectual dishonesty .we have fallen in the pit of ignorance and has sold our conscience for some rupees and perks. I am really despondent by dawn News. The neutrality & objectivity of DAWN has lost somewhere. Among alternatives on political scene PTI is best choice by miles
Sep 20, 2012 01:09pm
there has been no formal communication between PTI and PML.N on the interim government. this has ben clarified by IK. he was contacted through SMS and off the record . interim government setup is a big issue and if PML N is serious( which they are never) then they should formally contact PTI, there should be a proper discussion held discussing the pros and cons before coming to a conclusion. PTIs door are open for such talks and discussions.
Sep 20, 2012 03:40pm
spot on. IK totally in a state of confusion, full of contradictions and u-turns. He's only thriving on blame game against punjab govt. Nothing concrete to offer, just shallow words and typical political waffle.
Sep 20, 2012 11:55am
Sorry dont agree with you.
Sep 20, 2012 08:22pm
Very petty, very biased, very unlike the Khurram Hussain that I like to read
Ali Abbas
Sep 20, 2012 08:35pm
one can never take a solo flight....
Sep 20, 2012 09:03pm
Mr. Khurram has the right to express his opinions and also the right to cast his vote to parties which he thinks are indeed ready to lead the country.
Sep 20, 2012 05:03pm
we love khan and the reason is simple. he is different from others.. and he is not doing conventional pilitics which is a power politics.... IK is on the right path and we support him.
Asad Shah
Sep 20, 2012 10:37pm
Great piece!!! Don't worry Mr. writer, these pti trolls will take time to admit their so called leader's dumb politics. Way to go
Sep 21, 2012 12:16am
khurram sahib can you please tell me and everybody who are you? have you ever created your own party? do you have a experience in politics? have you ever succeeded on making hard decision? I guess not. On what criteria are you giving a review when he is not even tested and election process hasn't begun. It is like you are reviewing a movie and giving final verdict before the release.
Sep 21, 2012 12:51am
"amateur" I dont know what author tries to imply here but this is is definitely what we need. Author should just sit and interview the "professional politicians". A piece like this reflects poorly on the news paper as well.
Shahid Latif
Sep 20, 2012 12:51pm
Imran is the voice of change. You want him to think and act like other politician and yet represent a change. Any of his act or saying is used to paint him as naive or as "not a fit" for Pakistani politics. If he avoids compromise, he is stubborn and if he negotiates, he is one of them Come on give him room to play. Otherwise confess you are ok with the current set of politicians.
Sep 20, 2012 09:36pm
what an immature article reflecting personal prejudice....
Shah Farman
Sep 21, 2012 04:29am
We are with Khan and we believe in his sincerity as he has showed with his struggle and clean record. Shame on yellow journalism.