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Floppy and sloppy

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THE good thing about the PTI is that it’s predictable: floppy and sloppy when it seems to matter most. Performance anxiety, as it were.

The bad thing about the PTI is that it’s not interested in institutions. Not parliament, not the courts, not the systems of government.

This week, good and bad were in abundant display.


Every time it has a chance to interact with the state and its democratic institutions in a healthy manner, the PTI seems to sputter and fail.


The Supreme Court option was not the PTI’s choice. In fact, the court option was a manifestation of the PTI’s failure.

The goal, after all, had been to oust the government. The instrument for that was supposed to have been the lockdown.

That failed and it failed spectacularly.

And when it failed, the court arguably helped salvage the situation and mitigate the PTI’s ignominy — something the PTI is aware of, but cannot admit.

The court option kept the Panama issue alive. Alive where the imploded, abortive lockdown had almost succeeded in burying.

The lockdown had helped switch the focus from the Panama stuff — ostensibly the reason for the lockdown — to the lockdown itself. In politics, you win on the perception of what is at stake.

Once the success of the Islamabad lockdown itself became central to the political narrative, there was only one metric against which the PTI vs PML-N battle would be judged.

But the court intervention gave the PTI a new lease of life. Go to the court and maybe get the result needed. And if not ouster, then at least draw some N-League blood.

So to folk outside the PTI it looked like another chance to agitate the Panama issue. And maybe even a moment to deliver a political knockout punch to a PML-N pinned to the mat legally.

Some inside the PTI seemed alert to the possibility and tried to cast it as such. Let’s take this seriously and help the court do what we need it to do.

It seemed a moment for the PTI’s good side to triumph. An articulate, sober, evidence-backed case for why Nawaz should not be prime minister and the PML-N should not be in power.

A case argued in the highest court of the land and before the most senior judge in the land. But the PTI’s bad side took over.

Pilloried as the PTI has been for its abject performance in court this week, there is an element of exaggerated political spin to it.

It’s not like the PTI can be expected or required as a political party to prove crimes committed by individuals, even — and especially — if those crimes have allegedly been committed by the PTI’s political opponents.

But what could have been expected of the PTI is to not appear incompetent and draw attention to its own desultoriness and in doing so deflect attention away from the Panama/PML-N nexus.

But that’s the PTI’s bad side: floppy and sloppy. And a total disregard for institutions and a hyper focus on politics and politicisation.

It remains perhaps the most troubling bit about the PTI.

The perma-campaign mode is what insurgents and outsiders do. Like it or not, it’s fine — and maybe even smart.

The relentless political attacks and crude political tactics are also what insurgents and outsiders do. Like it or not, it too is fine — and maybe even smart.

Never taking the foot off the accelerator and threatening to careen and crash into everything and anything until you get your way is also a classic insurgent/outsider approach. It’s fine — and maybe even politically smart.

But to deliberately, wilfully and always reject every opportunity where even a smidgen of respect for institutions and democratic process can helpfully be established — and at very little cost — is troubling for a party that aspires to power.

And not only aspires to power, but has a legitimate shot at winning it one day.

The PTI’s political opponents can delight in the PTI again tripping up over itself, its hubris and incompetence this week.

But from the perspective of the system, it remains troubling that one of the two major contenders for power does not seem able or willing to practise anything other than slash-and-burn politics.

The Supreme Court option was already evidence of the PTI’s failure at its original — and abiding — goal: the ouster of Nawaz and the installation of the PTI in power.

But the Supreme Court option was also a chance to again pursue that goal while demonstrating that it is also serious about how it will wield — once it gains — power.

Instead, the party chose to show us its worst side.

Even elements within the PTI seem to know this — that the longer the party’s quest for power has grown, the less it has been interested in anything but power.

There is, obviously, no responsibility on the PTI to do things differently because it would look better or may be, in some vague, academic way, system-enhancing.

If anything, the PTI has much to be satisfied about — that despite political setback after setback, the party remains the only viable challenge to the PML-N.

Slash and burn, always on the attack, go it alone — those are the prerogatives of a political party.

But every time it has a chance to interact with the state and its democratic institutions in a healthy, meaningful and cooperative manner, the PTI seems to sputter, flutter and fail.

Quite why that is so, only the PTI can tell us. What we can tell the PTI though is that it’s terrible form and bad omen.

The writer is a member of staff.

cyril.a@gmail.com

Twitter: @cyalm

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2016



The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


Comments (51) Closed



Yasir Nov 20, 2016 07:46am

very well analyzed, PTI's desperation to grab the power, with no respect for any institution is the reason for their incompetence and floppy performance.

Rebel Nov 20, 2016 08:27am

A healthy criticism for PTI.... However if the lead counsel falls short of expectations then blame should be with the person not with the PTI.

Gujranwala Nov 20, 2016 08:28am

Only mature people/party can taste success which PTI is far away. Look their decision of boycotting Turkish President's speech.

Zahid Iqbal Nov 20, 2016 09:03am

PTI concentrates more on degrading PML N than winning by argument.Hence lock-downs and dharnas and escaping from institutions like SC and NA.

Joe Nov 20, 2016 09:44am

Excellent article. I hope people within PTI leadership read this. PTI has always been it's own biggest enemy and this won't change until IK has some sensible advisor that he listens to.

Ali Nov 20, 2016 10:02am

Cant expect anything other than attacking PTI or the military from a man on PML-N's payroll

Arshad Nov 20, 2016 10:18am

Wish IK one day decides to even go through these articles; wisdom may prevail. Hope he has some saner voices around, he only needs to learn to listen & absorb and then take actions; good for all!

Tootrue Nov 20, 2016 10:27am

@Ali PML's payroll? You've got to be joking. This man almost brought down the government by writing about the secret meeting in which non-state actors were discussed. He was on the ECL and may yet face prosecution over his part in that leak. That's a fine way to treat your own supporter, eh?

I font know if this will see the light of day as I'm usually persona non grata with the mind police but we live in hope.

IFTIKHAR KHAN Nov 20, 2016 10:30am

Unbelievable but true. Both NS and IK are two sides of the same coin; one in bed with ASWJ and other in bed with TTP and likes of Maulana Samiullah of Akora Khattack. Neither at the helm offer a relief from existential threat to Pakistan. IK is one-man-gang with one-point-agenda.

citizen41 Nov 20, 2016 10:35am

PTI sole aim is to de-politicize...unlike other political parties, quest for power had never been its primary objective

pakistani Nov 20, 2016 10:39am

dissent is the essence of democracy...i would humbly not agree with the writer's opinion

Syed1 Nov 20, 2016 10:52am

Seems like Maryam Nawaz's media cell is working overtime.

Sanaullah Nov 20, 2016 10:52am

Ali is right, rather then telling the recent lies coming from ruling party about panama,he is just spoiling the pti,

Jamhooriat Nov 20, 2016 10:52am

PTI never lose opportunity to shoot himself.

pakistan first Nov 20, 2016 10:54am

after de-politicizing police and other institutions, PTI has good reason to yearn for power

Jilly Jiggy Nov 20, 2016 11:20am

What a pity !

ali Nov 20, 2016 11:58am

but pti is hell bent upon taking no leason frpm its follies

al fatmi Nov 20, 2016 11:58am

You are missing a very important point Cyril; it is cause of PTI & Sheikh Rasheed that Panama Leaks is still alive & is being pursued by the honorable court. Otherwise, like many other scandals & crimes perpetrated by the noble elite, this too would have forgotten by this "forgiving & forgetful" nation.

Ahmad Nov 20, 2016 12:04pm

@Ali even ur worst enemies can teach u good lessons.apart from intention look at substance

hotandsour Nov 20, 2016 12:22pm

PTI is a great party for me....and hope of pakistan. Only educated and sane people understand its every move......There is an old saying......if you are among the uneducated people....you are the uneducated one.....lets make pakistan great.....vote PTI

Nadeem rekh Nov 20, 2016 12:47pm

Excellent and surely PTI will take all positives from here. dear, you can say/write whatever you want, but its the PTI who is raising this issue on all plate form and giving the opportunity to everyone to sell their products including yours, someone can say about PTI in-experience in such corrupt system but I don't have any doubt on IK intention.

Skeptic Nov 20, 2016 03:27pm

Time to revamp and restructure the party perhaps!?

Although I am surprised that despite experienced hands like Jehangir Tareen and Shah Mahmood Qureshi, P{TI does not have better handle on its affairs and a coherent durable strategy for the party.

salman Nov 20, 2016 03:33pm

You mean PTI is the reason that SC admonished NAB, FIA, etc for failing to investigate panama leaks?

You are writing as if the panama case is all buy over. Maybe judgement should be reserved until the other side have had a chance to substantiate the qatri fairytale :)

aimi Nov 20, 2016 03:36pm

I haven read the whole article yet. But why should be going to court objective and why should be ousting the government should be the objective? if the objective is to ensure transparency , and everyone accountable and bring to justice then why not bring to court?

Keeping all technicalities of that aside , as I am not expert. My take is on why ousting the government should be the only objective?

Truth Nov 20, 2016 03:36pm

@Jamhooriat "PTI and himself!" Are you talking about a Party or a Person?

Perhaps you meant to say. 'PTI never loses and opportunity to lose an opportunity' or ' 'Imran Khan never misses an opportunity to shoot himself in the foot.'??

aimi Nov 20, 2016 03:40pm

Any why our analyses should be just based on the power strategies of all actors ? even if all the actors do act solely for that , and why not shape a discourse in our politics that is beyond that ? After all we all have a responsibility to do that

SM Nov 20, 2016 04:50pm

@Ali : and you have evidence for that, or slandering the author is a normal response for you in place of arguments? Like leader, like followers.

sara.afdal Nov 20, 2016 05:29pm

There were great hopes from PTI but like many Pakistanis I also feel that PTI has disappointed its supporters. We all thought PTI would be the third force we can hope for but after PTI's consistent failure I think we need a fourth force like Pervez Musharraf said.

Shiraz Nov 20, 2016 06:28pm

@Ali - More than 100% agreed.

Well done.

Shiraz Nov 20, 2016 06:31pm

@Tootrue - And this man is a foreign agent along with our royal family who are working to malign our forces, don't forget.

Shiraz Nov 20, 2016 06:31pm

@Syed1 - Sir it's more 8 billion industry.

Moona Nov 20, 2016 06:56pm

The PTI is not a political force any more. It will fail badly in the next elections.

M.Malik Nov 20, 2016 07:08pm

@Moona Many, and I mean, 95% of the global opinion polls, surveys, pundits and political analyst predicted Trump will be defeat in the US presidential elections. How wrong they were proven to be!

Even 1% chance is better than no chance. The naysayers and critics of Trump were left licking their chops on 11/9. Never say never!

Bency J Babu Nov 20, 2016 07:16pm

Excellent Thanks Dawn

Rashid Nov 20, 2016 07:48pm

It is no surprise that the only motto of PTI is just to grab the power. Instead of doing something good they blackmail the whole nation to choose them as a lesser evil.

Naeem Nov 20, 2016 08:59pm

IK has lost all balance in a quest to power. He is just another politician

Syed Tanwir Hasan Nov 20, 2016 09:58pm

A never considered PTI a political party but a party of purposeless, indolent youth players and ignorants about realities and world socialogical and political system.

Khanzada Nov 20, 2016 10:20pm

Can any one please think , why doesn't P.T.I value democratic institutions ? isn't it because of the the weak and derailed democratic institutions ?????? I believe the institutions have lost their credibility .

ABC Nov 20, 2016 10:28pm

If the apex court gives verdict against Nawaz and he resigns as PM, can Imran Khan become premier or PTI come into power? Simply can't and PTI and Imran know that, even a common man knows that. So, it is so silly to say that Imran is thinking of becoming PM after Nawaz's resignation. Yes, PTI is committing lots of mistakes but the writer's argument on this mater is so weird.

Ghani K Nov 20, 2016 10:38pm

Floppy and sloppy , that is all so far IK has done to dislodge Sharif. If he fails to prove Panama Leaks allegations against Sharifs and the company he better step aside and let someone else lead the party.

Parvez Nov 20, 2016 11:18pm

Must agree with you on this one.........and good advice that Imran should but will not follow.

zulfiqar Nov 21, 2016 12:47am

@Yasir Respect for institutions? Which one of the many exemplary and supremely competent institutions are you referring to? Pakistan has too many to count. If an honorable supreme court residing judge is confused about the legal status of statements uttered by a prime minister in parliament, then one can only imagine the state of everything else that falls under the systems' umbrella!

Adi Nov 21, 2016 05:03am

@pakistan first when was the police in kpk politicized ? Kpk police have always been out of politics , ask anybody living in kpk and experiancing police on a regular basis.

Nadeem Nov 21, 2016 05:52am

PMLN is corrupt and incompetent. I will take PTI any day over PMLN and other status quo parties. I wait to see any article in dawn which criticize PMLN etc.

Muzaffaroklahoma Nov 21, 2016 06:49am

PTI remains the most important and relevant political force of our times exposing our systems incompetence and corruption to us.If anything,this whole article proves it.

mind control Nov 21, 2016 10:37am

Looks like 'Bad Umpiring' is Khan's bane.

Dr. Abdul Mannan Nov 21, 2016 12:12pm

Thanks to Al.Maidah. I wish we could have more writers like you and our nation would have become different. Very very healthy criticism.

Rukhsana Asad Nov 21, 2016 02:19pm

@Ghani K is it IK responsibility to prove that NS bought those Mayfair flats with ill begotten wealth?Did Panama Leaks authored by IK?Is IK the head of FIA or Nab? Your logic is not only weird but incomprehensible too,blame IK for all state institutions being spineless and useless!

Democrate1 Nov 21, 2016 04:12pm

It is all about corruption and IK is the person highlights that just for awareness pakistanis how their money embezzled causing poverty deprivation and hunger to millions.one should appreciate that regardless what decisions taken by court . Cyril is right as far as PTI's modus operandi is concerned.

Khanzada Nov 21, 2016 05:50pm

Can u all plz think why is MR.KHAN not showing trust on democratic institutions??? Isn't it because they have lost their credibility and are no more reliable ????????

bismil Nov 22, 2016 07:05pm

PTI may have failed in Politics- but the innovative changes made by IK can't be ignored in KPK. Specially the police department and traffic wardens much improve then ever. IK is a game changer though lets finger cross for more prosperity within the region instead critics