The Aam Admi Party: An Indian version of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf?
Politics between India and Pakistan have essentially been dominated by upper-class families, feudal lords and tribes. These politicians have a history of dividing the public on the basis of religion, ethnicity and class. Since the creation of both countries, we have witnessed the politics of hatred against people of other ideologies, religions and ethnicities.
It is quite apparent that both countries are not running on the principles set by their founders, Quaid-e-Azam and Mahatma Gandhi. Both these great leaders dreamt of a state in which all citizens would be treated equally without any discrimination on the basis of colour, caste, class and religion.
Even after 65 years neither India nor Pakistan are anywhere near what Gandhi and Jinnah had planned for us. Corruption, terrorism, poverty, unemployment and power shortage are rampant in both countries today.
The public in both countries has lost all hope from their respective political elite and it is a common perception that politicians come into power only to fill their own pockets, misuse their positions and spread venom against other parties, and groups.
Political parties have become ‘family limited companies’ and there is no way for the common man to take part in the affairs of the state.
In this hour of extreme disappointment and disillusionment, two leaders decided to give an alternative to the people of their respective countries. Imran Khan founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) to fight for change and justice, and Arvind Kejriwal launched the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to fight for the common man in India, driving out corruption being his main agenda.
Both these parties seem to have many similarities and the only difference I could see was the duration that both parties have been in politics. While the PTI has spent 17 years in politics in Pakistan, AAP has just been in existence for one year. However, the PTI came to the national forefront only two years ago with a large public rally held in Lahore on October 30, 2011.
Below are some of the similarities I noticed between the two parties operating in their respective countries:
1. Both PTI and AAP consider themselves to be an alternative to the corrupt political system.
2. The priority for both parties is ‘change’ and justice in the country. Moreover, both PTI and AAP are also leading movements against corruption and inequality.
3. Both parties have managed to challenge the status quo in their respective countries and have made their place in national politics against established politicians and political parties.
4. Both believe that the common man and youth should be empowered. This belief was reflected in the recent elections conducted in Pakistan and New Delhi where PTI gave 35% of its tickets to the youth and brought 80% new faces into the Pakistani political sphere.
On the other hand, AAP contested elections by giving all their tickets to common people using the symbol of a broom for their party.
5. The chairmen of both parties have a history of social work and are famous amongst the general public. Moreover, neither of them have a history of corruption.
6. The PTI and AAP modernised politics with rampant use of social media such as Twitter and Facebook for their campaign.
7. Both parties managed to attract the largest number of first-time voters who until now had considered politics to be a ‘dirty game’. The voter turnout in Pakistan on May 11, 2013 and in New Delhi last Sunday is a testament to this fact. It was an unprecedented 55% in Pakistan and 66% in Delhi.
8. Both AAP and PTI were extensively criticised by political pandits and the media. Labelled by critiques and haters as Thanga Party or ‘One-man Party’, both Imran Khan and Arvind Kejriwal proved Mandela’s quote true,
“It always seems impossible until it is done.”
9. Both parties strongly believed that they would sweep the elections but were unable to and hence, are now in the opposition.
10. Both PTI and AAP are satisfied with their performance in the elections. AAP was able to secure 28 out of 70 seats in the Delhi Legislative Assembly on their debut in Indian politics, while PTI appeared out of nowhere and were able to secure 36 National Assembly seats and formed the government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).
11. One of the most positive developments by both parties is that they tried to unite the people of their respective nations. Rather than dividing people on the basis of ethnicity, religion and feudalism just to get some votes, both parties struggled with the larger agenda of uniting the nation. Throughout their campaigns, leaders of both parties urged their supporters to become ‘one’ and represent themselves as ‘Pakistanis’ or ‘Indians’ rather than as Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Sunnis, Shias, Pathans, Balochis, Sindhis and Punjabis.
12. Both AAP and PTI managed to get volunteers who worked for the cause day-and-night without any greed for power. They were simply working for a positive change in the country.
13. People travelled from outside India and Pakistan to cast their vote, and this was in itself, a huge change.
14. For the first time in 65 years, the people of India and Pakistan realised that there is scope for ‘good politics’ and that everyone has the ability to play a role in order to improve the state of their country.
So, here is what I have to say to leaders of both these up-and-coming parties:
Dear Mr Khan and Mr Kejriwal,
It does not matter that PTI and AAP could not form the government, in Pakistan and India respectively, because this is the beginning and not the end. Your supporters need not be disappointed with this defeat.
The sympathies of every common man lie with you and you represent hope to millions of your supporters who hope to rid themselves of the prevailing corrupt system one day. You are the only platform they have.
Remember that it is the common man who made you what you are today. If you act in the same way as any other typical politician then it is my firm belief that this same common man will take you down. So, don’t ever underestimate the power of a common man.
Most importantly, now that you have made an impact on the overall politics of Pakistan and India, you should strive to fulfil all the promises you made before the elections. You have to prove that you are the best because mere rhetoric will not let you reach the top.
Good luck to you both, we trust you and we believe in you!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.