What the PML-N got wrong

Published: May 16, 2012

It’s like the PML-N has spent the last eight months trying to make sure that the public face of the party is, at least, disliked, if not hated. PHOTO: INP

In the last eight months or so, the PML-N has done pretty much everything a party can do in an election year. They have dug up every road in Punjab, raised concerns about problems in other provinces and have even recruited avidly to beef up their party ranks.

Effectively, they have prepared well for the upcoming elections. And even though the tsunami is coming for them, they are still focused on the real competitor. One would say that they are ready to go to the polls and seize power. However, all is not what it seems to be – my personal belief is that the PML-N will lose the national elections again. Here are my reasons:

Inability to evolve

In a country that is obsessed with the word ‘change’, it does pay off to be the consistent one. While people harp on about change, a large majority likes things the way are; not because they are fair, but because they understand how things get done within the current scenario. So while there is always this urge to change everything, majority of the people are content with the way things are and only wish for a few tweaks here and there.

In such a situation, one would imagine that a party like the PML-N would thrive by making small changes to make life easier for people. But that is the whole issue; change and evolution is not the same thing. The PML-N, instead of evolving over time into a mature party, is still trying to get on the bandwagon of ‘change’.

The problem with that is that one cannot be in a provincial government and harp on about change – that is effectively an oxymoron. What you can do instead is focus on better governance, and that’s exactly what the PML-N hasn’t done in the past four-and-a-half years. While people claim that Bhutto-ism or the tsunami will defeat the PML-N, they are all wrong; the PML-N will defeat itself.

No media strategy

Apparently Senator Pervaiz Rasheed is heading some sort of media strategy for the PML-N. However, no one seems to have seen that in action. The PML-N often cries that when the party does something, they never get credit for it; that’s because the message never really gets out.

Compare this to the PTI. Even though I do not agree with their views, there is no doubt that it is brilliantly efficient at getting its message across. People identify the word ‘Insaf’ with them when it is used in any context. That is the power of excellent media management and strategy.

The PML-N, on the other hand, wastes money and hopes that things will work out. So while Senator Pervaiz Rasheed is doing ‘excellent’ work for the PML-N, the party is slowly dying a very public media death.

No message

Does anyone, including Mian Sahib, know what the message of the PML-N is? What exactly are they going to fix when they come into power?

The economy is in crisis, there is a food shortage expected to last the next two years and we are expecting floods in August. What is the PML-N going to do about that? What is anyone else going to do to if they come into power?

Saying “we shall end corruption” does not cut it, because politically speaking, a certain level of corruption exists in every system as it is endemic.

This question is in no way limited to the PML-N; this is a real question for all parties including the PPP and the PTI.

Since we have taken huge loans, our budget is constructed in accordance with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank; so no party can make massive changes to it as there is no money.

I wonder what the PML-N’s message is. It’s been four years and all I have heard is complaints about what the PPP does wrong, while presenting nothing as an alternative.

Below par leadership

The PML-N will lose out because of the leadership. It’s not Mian Sahib who is the problem; it is others like Chaudhry Nisar whose words and actions contradict each other. Another is Senator Pervaiz Rasheed who effectively blocks any decent idea from being carried forward. Amir Muqam is also one who has an impeccable record of not doing anything.

With such a cadre of leaders, how can one win? It’s like the PML-N has spent the last eight months trying to make sure that the public face of the party is disliked, if not hated.

Bad advisors

This is a problem with most political parties, but with with the PML-N it’s more serious. It is a well known fact that both the Sharif brothers adhere strictly to the words of their advisors; whatever is fed to them is what they start believing eventually.

The current mix of advisors are more interested in personal benefits than the long run sustainability of the party. It is due to this narrow-mindedness that the party lacks a crop of young leadership that could take over the in the future. The cherry on this cake of errors is that most of these advisers who are given the task of advising a political party and its leaders are not even elected members. They are people who have no long term stakes in the well-being of the political party.

A few months ago, Ayaz Amir wrote an effective obituary of the PTI in his column. At that time people said he had jumped the gun, while many agreed with him. If he were to look at the PML-N now, that obituary would fit like a glove.

The PML-N is a party that does not need enemies; they are their own worst enemies. All these reasons have always existed – the PTI’s emergence has merely highlighted them.

So while Mian Sahib tells Pakistan why the prime minister is wrong, what he doesn’t understand is that his party should be the last to talk about right and wrong. His own members are destroying his party and he hasn’t been able to see it in four years.

One wonders how a leader will run the country when he can’t manage even his own party.

Read more by Adnan here, or follow him on Twitter @adnanrasool


Adnan Khalid Rasool

Currently the Deputy Executive Director Center for Enterprise, Trade and Development, Adnan is also a political analyst working mainly on electoral politics and political campaign management. He tweets at @adnanrasool

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Majid

    PMLN has clearly mentioned it’s message, iterated it several times and now even has made it part of their official logo which is “khud-dar, khush-hal, khud-mukhtar Pakistan”. How can you say PMLN has no message?Recommend

  • Sajid Mahmood Awan

    PTI’s sudden uprising has made PML(N) look utterly frustrated. Sitting with the PPP in Federal & Punjab Governments and the friendly opposition have been their grave mistakes which will take them no where but back to “square one”. Therefore, the common people have no other option but to support PTI to build a new and strong Pakistan. PAKISTAN PAAINDABADRecommend

  • Umair

    One major factor you have just missed, that what our voter thinks. This only factor may justify all your points. Recommend

  • PhD_Norway

    Sharif Brothers only know how to deal with print media and they have been doing good all along and if you see, they are still doing good in print media.
    2ndly, they really HATE any kind of competition, PML-N nervous behavior gave Imran khan opportunity to put up good show in Lahore. Recommend

  • http://Islamabad Mangoman

    PML-N is make Imran Khan and Co. keep on running and running and in the end Imran Khan will be tired :) Recommend

  • usama

    The Ego Of PML-N Leadership Led their Part in to the Darkness and Permits PTI to Grow Up…Recommend

  • omair shahid

    @Sir Dard:
    you still want to give another chance to PML-N they & other party who came in power have done nothing but destroyed Pakistan now i’m a a supporter of PTI but i want to say that at least give PTI a chance we are willing to give another chance to PML-N, PPP but we are not giving a chance to PTI and Imran khan said that he will quit politics if proven that he is backed by ISI so far no one has given any prove.Recommend

  • GH

    The Problem which most of Our People don’t understand is that ” Look at the Past of these leadership? What they were before coming into Power and What they are now after coming into Power? look at the result what they have achieved in those years and what there Business and wealth achieve in those Years ! If There wealth increase and Pakistan’s Economy growth rate is equal than it is fine otherwise they are doing some dirty politics and corruption which is making them Rich!Recommend

  • popsaeed

    In my opinion the writter of this blog is biased Corruption is main thing which cause econmy down and who is corrupt PPP and both sharif brother in every statement say government should fall down in order to stop corruption.
    Whats PTI Says both PPP and PML-N corrupt but did not go to court against PML-N if he got ant eveidence if saying false statement against PML-N in every PTI leader and according to you its good then you are wrong mr writter.
    PTI never come in power even and only support PPP in every sense because they want replace opposition not Government

    PML-N = anti PPP
    PTI = anti PML-NRecommend

  • Parvez

    Nice……. but you missed out an important point. Shahbaz Shareef’s singing voice and stolen poetry rectials is certainly not the way to go. In politics desperation is a killer. Recommend

  • popsaeed

    What about music concert in PTI jalsaRecommend

  • Maria Suleman

    I still believe that Nawaz Sharif is the best option available for pakistan. He is far far better than PPP and PTI leadership. Nawaz Sharif is a “made in Pakistan” man. He knows what are the problems of the country. His both tenures were far better than all tenures of PPP. I believe that Pakistani public should again elect PML(N) and nawaz Sharif. As far as Imran Khan is concerned, he is a great helper of PPP. He is working on the agenda of PPP. He will split votes of PML(N) to give benefit to PPP. It is a very bad role being played by PTI which is a party of establishment.Recommend

  • Faisal

    Another attempt of demeaning and humiliating the leadership of PML.N by a pity4PTIRecommend

  • Kashif Hussain

    Nawaz Sharif is playing his cards very carefully. Now it is the responsibility of public to vote for the right party. PPP is a failure party while PTI is dancing on the signals of establishment. I believe that wise men should vote for PML(N). i am hopeful that PML(N) can deliver a lot for the country. Nawaz Sharif has a better team as compared to PPP and PTI.Recommend

  • Adnan Khawaja

    I agree with Maria Suleman. There is a noora kushti between PPP and PTI. I am sure that PML(N) will perform very good in the upcoming elections. All my best wishes are with Nawaz Sharif and his party.Recommend

  • Adnan Khawaja

    It is atrange that the writer has criticized PML(N). I believe that situation of PPP and PTI is worse than PML(N). PPP has produced nothing during its 4 years tenure and PTI people are quite confused. In the present scenario, PML(N) is better placed if compared with other parties. They have strong vote bank in Upper Paunjab. They will also get reasonable number of seats in Lower Punjab because Shehbaz Sharif has given much attention to Lower Punjab. He visited there again and again during flood time and I hope people will remember his contributions for Lower Punjab. Nawaz Sharif is giving much attention to Sindh but PPP is again trying to play Sindh Card. This time there will be no vote of sympathy for PPP in Sindh. I am hopeful that PML(N) will win some seats from Sindh too. In khyber Pakhtunkhwa, people are much disappointed from PPP and ANP which will help PML(N). In Balochistan, Bugtis and Achakzai are favouring Nawaz Sharif. The conclusion is that PML(N) is doing much better for the coming elections.Recommend

  • Asifa Jamal

    Mian Brothers are always very active if some problems comes to people. For example, floods, earthquake, dingui fever, Giari sector in Siachen. They have done a lot. These things should also be mentioned. They have served the nation better than others. But some black sheep are there in every party. Nawaz Sharif is working very wisely for upcoming elections. Allah bless him.Recommend

  • http://www.hotmail.com A.Bajwa

    I entirely agree. When electorate had chosen PMLN to rule Punjab they should have focussed on the governance of the biggest province rather than friterring energies on unseating the coalition of smaller provinces who had control on the center.Recommend

  • http://NewYork Falcon

    I think PMLN is digging its own grave. NS is a symbol of 1990s. PMLN’s problem is it doesn’t realize that it is too old fashioned to tap into the new relatively sophisticated and awakened middle class. On top of it, I haven’t seen any willingness to read or keep up with the global developments in PMLN top tier leadership. Don’t get me wrong. In terms of administration, Shahbaz Sharif is pretty good and in terms of economic vision, Ahsan Iqbal and Sartaj Aziz are good. But this is as good as it gets. Recommend

  • Parvez

    When your the first to do something new it gets well received, plus it was done somewhat tastefully and organised. Now the PML-N and PPP have jumped on the band-wagon, just looks a little desperate.Recommend

  • Adnan Ajmal

    We have to elect our leadership out of the available options. Everyone knows that PPP is doing corruption in the country. PTI has favoured PPP candidates in all bye-elections. It is sure that PTI is playing double-game. There is a Noora Kushti between PPP and PTI. Resultantly the only suitable available option for Pakistani public is PML(N). I am sure that Nawaz Sharif can bring Pakistan out of present troubles.Recommend

  • omair shahid

    @Adnan Ajmal:
    These two parties have destroy Pakistan for so many years and you still think PML-N can bring pakistan out of present troubles please think for a moment we are will to give a chance to these corrupt parties but not willing to give a chance PTI.
    PML-N or PPP had there chance and have done nothing but destroyed our country now there choice is yours. Recommend

  • Mair Junejo

    All the best wishes are with Nawaz Sharif and his party.Recommend

  • popsaeed

    Did imran win all his cricket matches answer is no so why we trust on him he may be fail in running the government. Only one hospital in 15 year and that also with the help of punjab goverment why he did not establish in all provinces.
    He fail to bulid his party thats why he need outsourcing like makhdooms and kasuri.

    so in order to stablise the country we need PML-NRecommend

  • Shamila Sadaf

    All know about corruption of PPP. Why should we vote for PPP. Imran has no credibility. He has no vision. He is helping PPP by criticizing PML(N). He is a helper of Zardari. We shall vote only for Nawaz Sharif. He is a public leader. All the best wishes for Nawaz Sharif.Recommend

  • Paindu

    I feel bad for the supporters of PML-N because they really dont see how bad their governance has been of Punjab over the last 4.5 years. Are these supporters ignoring the laptop scam ? Is that the best they could do with the taxpayers money that too just a few months before elections. I request all the PMLN supporters to look into the link of Zia ul Haq with Nawaz Sharif, the change in wealth of Mr shahbaz and nawaz since they started politics. Look at the fact that he was in coalition with this govt and now he complains in rallies but does not resign from the NA, and he knows very well that if Punjab represents 60% of Pakistan and if they resign there will have to be elections.

    Also look into the corruption scandals of the Sharif brothers, also look at the article very recently posted by ET about the numerous luxury/bulletproof cars possessed by the Sharifs and the N league officials. Please also look at the money laundering scandals worth 32 million dollars. Both these parties have played around with the ppl of pakistan and just held power through the bogus votes of poor uneducated masses of the rural areas and villages. I have seen videos of rigging at polls and all sorts of proof which points to both these parties as the two most incompetent and corrupt parties in Pakistan at the moment.

    Pls do some research on these two parties and you will find alot of material. Imran Khan has the right policies when it comes to education, healthcare, foreign relations, terrorism, de-politicization of police and other entities like NAB, ANF.

    He has not been tested before, his personal history shows that whatever he has put his mind on he has achieved despite critics demoralising him. Vote for PTI and bring change to our nation full of talented and gifted people.Recommend

  • Abdul qalam ibn al maqdoum

    The sad thing is People are so selfish now a days that they dont care about Pakistan as a whole, but choose parties which would personally benefit them. Thats the reason why there are so many suppoters of PPP and PMLN.Recommend

  • omair shahid

    please mention any other hospital like this in 15 years or before & please mention any corruption case on imran or pti and yes he may fail but we can only know when we will give our vote. think about it how many times PML-N & PPP came in power you know the answer very well.Recommend

  • Farhan Khan

    Probably the Nervous Sharifs should learn to Smile like Zardari Sahib. ;)Recommend

  • Talha Qrshad Awan

    @Sir Dard:with all due respect sir dard i would like to know,who are u pointing at by saying brick head playboy????Recommend

  • Ali Ahsan

    @Maria Suleman:
    Fully agreed. PTI is only a helper of PPP.This can be judged by thanksgiving speeches for Imran Khan by the convicted Prime Minister.Recommend

  • Zain

    @ Paindu

    How come you you know that scandals are true to fact. If you & your party leader (Imran Khan) along with his fellows are convinced & true to what you’ve seen, heard or have documentary evidence then why not go to the court. PM Gillani can be convicted then why not NS or SS if your facts have any weight. It is you who needs to do research my friend. Nawaz Sharifs tenure were great & prosperous both them times when their party came into power. You were probably kid those days. You need to study bro. PTI is just another name of behavior often shown by Hyenas.

    Wake up bro.Recommend

  • bilal

    i don’t understand one thing that ppl accusing imran of being corrupted & supported by establishment . I kno u guys r pml n supporter & it’s ur right to choose a party , nothing wrong in it. But for god sake think for a moment , a man who made Pakistan proud & he’s a true son of Pakistan . PPP & PMLN came many times in power , if they were capapble , they could change but u guys have nothing to criticise except his marriage & personnal life . i don’t like pmln , neither ppp but their personnal lives have nothing to do with this hatred , it;s more their performance , just a bit of construction & providing schemes won’t help pakistan . We need leaders who work for the whole nation. These ppp gadhey didn’t even promote education in their rural areas b’cuz they want to keep ppl in darkness . SO WHEN you vote , don’t just think of ur personal interest , but for the betterment of whole nation. The vote is yours whoever u think is capable , vote for him , YOUR CHOICE :)Recommend