ANOTHER day, another public brawl for the PTI. This week, outspoken Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry exposed infighting within party ranks when he shared his unfavourable views on some of the prime minister’s advisers. In a virtual showdown, adviser Naeem ul Haque and Mr Chaudhry — without naming each other — tweeted subtle criticisms of each other for a captivated audience, with one issuing a warning to the ‘newcomer’ and the other mocking his rival, quoting a Ghalib couplet. This appears to be a running theme for members of the PTI and their coalition partners since they took the reins six months ago. Either due to bad luck or by design, reports of bitter tensions between members manage to make their way into the public realm. Examples include the time when Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid’s dislike for Mr Chaudhry, whom he had lambasted for “having a picnic in London” when he was needed in the country, was caught on a mic before a presser; and when Moonis Elahi of the PML-Q, the PTI’s coalition partner, didn’t mince his words as he criticised Mr Chaudhry in a tweet, saying that “Imran Khan needs to discipline his children”.

Less quarrelsome members of the government are eager to brush aside these spats as ‘nothing extraordinary’ — perhaps rightly so to some degree. After all, the issue of conflict within ruling parties and with coalition partners is the result of a power struggle not unique to the PTI, as evidenced by the grudges PML-N and PPP veterans had towards their respective governments. But what makes the PTI’s quarrels distinctive is that ministers are not afraid to wash their dirty laundry in public, and unreservedly flail each other before all and sundry. While one could praise Imran Khan for the democratic disposition of this unbridled family of veterans and newcomers, it would be better for everyone if the prime minister put his house in order to inspire confidence and send a message to naysayers that all is well.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2019

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