Time and time again, people much smarter than I have wasted pages in the hope that PTI would learn and mature. So, for me to even attempt another piece at criticising the national joke, that is the PTI, is honestly a waste of everyone’s time.
However, what I can do is to try and explain what the PTI did, continues to do, and how that is hurting them more than anyone else.
Close to a year ago, Pakistan went to the polls. On May 11th, the country witnessed an emphatic turnout by the masses and the elections were mostly peaceful. After years of dictatorship and shoddy attempts at governance, the nation voted in an election that was supposed to be the tipping point for our country.
The Nawaz league won a landslide majority, sweeping the floor in Punjab, making a few gains in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, while hardly making a dent in Sindh. On the other hand, PPP lost almost everything else; well they managed to keep Sindh. Meanwhile, the PTI won KP.
Now, in any rational country, one would expect the parties to sit down and decide what happens next. Ideally, the opposition should have sat down and figured out how to deal with a single party government which is traditionally more stable and powerful than a coalition government.
Pakistan is not a rational country and the PTI is not an ideal opposition.
Shocked at their damning defeat, the PTI went into denial and has been effectively frozen in time since then. Initially, their arguments were close to sane but over time they became conspiracy theories conveniently made up to fit an assumed logic.
As we approach May 11th 2014, the anniversary of the PTI’s third election annihilation (1997, 2002 and 2013), the party wants to throw a pointless protest in Islamabad.
Considering we are a free country, if the PTI want to protest then they have the right to do so.
When we do not interrupt the TTP while they wreak havoc around the country, if a pseudo political party wants to have fun on the weekend, why not?
|Flag waving, chants, live music guaranteed -Photo by Hussain Afzal|
We need to understand what still drives the PTI to do this nonsense. The party suffers from a psychological trauma, to deal with them we need to understand it instead of bashing it.
Take a deep breath and think about the top leadership of the PTI:
Are most of them from Punjab? Are most of them elitists who have at one time or another belonged to a different banner? Did most of them switch parties before the election?
Assuming the answer to all of that is yes, you have a party that is built out of privilege and is elitist to the core.
Now think about the message that the PTI keeps promoting:
Is it always the same old line of getting those who deserve to rule a chance to rule? Is their target audience strictly people who are otherwise politically agnostic? Is their target audience mainly made up of people who would also potentially be paying members of a hypothetical Imran Khan fan club?
Again, the assumption is the answer to all these questions is going to be yes.
Put the series of answers together and you get a blueprint of what the PTI is; an elitist party that plays on the insecurities of political agnostics promising them that their lives would improve in a country, where most other parties target the poorer masses than the semi-educated middle classes.
Also read: Trouble brewing within PTI in KP
The deal the PTI sold was simple: If all you people who traditionally do not vote were to come out and vote for us we will win the elections and they will have a party that looks out for their interests in the government. And their target audience bought in to this idea. I mean how could they not? The Peoples Party was a disaster, so that option was a non-starter for their support. The PML–N was too populist and too ‘rural’, Jamaat and JUI were a no go. This was the average PTI supporter mindset going in to vote on May 11th 2013 i.e. we all show up and we wrap this thing up.
Problem is what the PTI forgot to mention was that even if all their support base showed up, the party had no standing in Balochistan, in nearly all of Sindh, except probably three constituencies in Karachi and most rural parts of Punjab. So mathematically speaking, they were never going to win a majority.
The deal was nonsensical to start with but the promise of having a say and that sense of belonging to a greater cause pulled people to the ballot box. They came, they voted and then they waited. The miracle did not happen and that is when they lost it. It was a shock for the support base.
Think about it, they assumed that their showing up would win the elections, they did their bit but still, nothing happened. This is problematic at two levels; first a whole group of people kept telling themselves that they do not vote because their voice does not get counted and when they did vote, they realised they are a minority voice that just gets drowned out.
Another realisation was the façade of actually mattering in the greater scheme of things in Pakistan that they all hold on to so dearly, is well, just a façade. For the PTI supporters, those not in KP, this was a shattering experience.
|-Photo by Hussain Afzal|
Now a year later, they are still in the denial. They will remain in that state because what else is there for them to do? Since the elections, the party has been wiped out in Punjab and Karachi (they never really existed in Sindh). They are having severe troubles in KP and the governance is suffering from internal strife, mainly the Punjabi party leadership interfering in the daily operations of the province.
But as a party, the PTI’s elitist leadership knows how to play the middle-class insecurities (most of them did that expertly on Musharraf’s behalf) and they still do that even though they know reality to be different.
Having been involved intimately with the PML–N’s campaign, I saw their internal calculations change at least four times. They all knew they would not cross 35 seats in the best case scenario, while in the worst case they would secure about 18 seats. And yet, they lied because it was just easier.
Point is if the PTI was honest to its supporters they would have done what a good opposition does: Give the government a tough time by bringing up legislation that addresses populist issues. They would have started building party structures in Sindh and Balochistan. They would have focused all their attention on KP and made it into a model province much like the PML–N did in Punjab.
The possibilities to prove a point were endless for the PTI but they chose not to take any of them. Just like they chose not to act like a political party and conceal the facts even though they knew all this beforehand.
The irony of it all is that the same masses that put the PTI in this condition are also the ones who rewarded them with a government in KP. But the level of pretentious privilege is so apparent that they dismiss the KP victory as being nothing next to losing out on Punjab.
So yes, another May 11th, another weekend party, another round of rhetorical nonsense and another year of disbelief that one time PTI’s supporters showed up to vote, they got upstaged by the masses where it really mattered to them i.e. Punjab.