Nov 30: Game-changer or deadline-changer?

Published November 29, 2014
Imran Khan addresses supporters outside the parliament in Islamabad.—AFP/file
Imran Khan addresses supporters outside the parliament in Islamabad.—AFP/file

PTI are the Kardashians of Pakistani politics; love them or hate them, they are news makers.

You just can’t ignore them. No matter how out of touch, narcissistic and offensive they become, the party has been able to pump adrenaline into the awaam like nobody has since the famous Bhutto jalsas. The November 30 rally will likely be one more in a long line of proofs of that.

But even as I wish Insafians all luck for the big day ahead, allow me to express my concerns for the jalsa.


The misguided missile that is Imran Khan

It is no secret that 'Kaptaan Khan', who sees things purely in black and white, has often ended up putting his party in awkward positions.

He tends to perch himself at the highest point, from where anything lower is bound to be perceived as failure.

The recent dharnas are a classic example of that.

The government offered PTI an investigation commission under the Supreme Court for the election probe, but Khan did not take the deal; he stood firmly on the resignation of the Premier, and today after witnessing the diminishing of the PTI's political capital, his party has given the go-ahead for that which was offered by the treasury when the PTI had an upper hand.

Also read: Imran and minister in fierce war of words

As a sympathiser (not to be read as 'supporter'), I am afraid that the Mighty Khan, following in his own tradition, might follow all the hullabaloo around November 30 with another ludicrous ultimatum.

He's highly likely to do that, and if it happens, it will turn into another source of embarrassment for the party (we all know the fate of the 'civil disobedience' call).


Pave the way for a face saving deal

For the premier, it seems to be all but back to normal.

The PTI which once posed a threat to the Nawaz family government is now merely a nuisance, and Imran Khan is well aware of that status.

Where, at one end, Mian Sahab is seen smiling broadly while inaugurating the Hazara Motorway, on the other end, the Kaptaan sticks with his boorish Oye politics. Even PTI supporters don’t tune in for his daily political lecturing after the main news bulletin, mainly because there is nothing new in it.

It’s highly unlikely to come from the Khan camp, but it would be utter genius of him to show a little flexibility by giving the government some room to negotiate a win-win deal; a face-saver for PTI and a 'good riddance' for the government.

Take a look: PTI showing flexibility: Rehman Malik

Plans fail, there is no shame or surprise in that. But sticking to a plan even after knowing it has failed is nothing but self-defeating. The party is desperately in need of a fresh approach; I hope they exhibit it in the jalsa.


Opening up too many fronts

Imran kicked off his unending protests by bashing the prime minister and his party (which was expected).

He then turned on a media owner; then lambasted certain media anchors; then Asma Jahangir — this bullying approach is more detrimental to PTI's image than he seems to realise.

PTI is steadily isolating itself from institutions and important players thanks to its unvarying criticism of all things under the sun.

The party does not seem to understand that the answer to Pakistan's current challenges lies not in spewing harsh rhetoric, but rather in shaping policies in a manner which forces the government to get their act together.

Explore: 5 things Imran Khan did wrong

In fact, one of the reasons the PML-N still stands strong is the support it gets from all those who have banded together after being attacked by Khan.


And thus...

Given the state of things, the November 30 jalsa is not a game-changer; it is merely an attempt for the PTI to reaffirm its strong presence in the capital.

In all probability, the party will successfully accomplish that through charged speeches mixed with DJ Butt beats, but the real question for the Zaman Park-based policymakers remains:

With their current eccentric and whimsical policies – most based on one man's rhetoric – how long can the party sustain its popularity?

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