DI Khan prison break: Is the PTI to blame?

Published: July 31, 2013

Burnt rooms inside a prison are seen following a Taliban attack in Dera Ismail Khan July 30, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS

In lieu of the Dera Ismail Khan (DI Khan) Central Prison attack, the media mounted one of its own. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came under strong criticism for its failure to initially prevent, and then contain the incident. Prominent MQM politicians, for example, took to social media to openly question the whereabouts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Chief Minister Pervez Khattak as the fight between the militants and the security forces raged on. Meanwhile, PTI leader Imran Khan found his hands tied in a different issue altogether – that of Ayla Malik’s fake degree.

It was disappointing to see both Imran Khan and Pervez Khattak refuse to accept responsibility.

Khan called the tribunal trial for Ayla Malik discriminatory and Khattak blamed the intelligence agencies for failing to identify the militant threat in K-P. Two of the most prominent PTI stalwarts provided disappointing responses, but many claim that given the trajectory of the party’s public image, it was hardly a surprise.

Since the elections, it seems the PTI legislators have tried harder with every passing day to land themselves and the party in hot water. However, calling for Mumtaz Qadri’s release, ambiguous statements regarding sanitary jobs and educational systems, and trying to justify suicide bombing indicate political immaturity rather than incompetence.

Within the last week alone, this list has seen further additions to this embarrassing list. Ishfaq Paracha managed to get tangled up in a sexual harassment case while Governor K-P Shaukatullah Khan refused to term the Parachinar attacks ‘sectarian’ in nature; fair credit to the governor, the attacks were indeed not sectarian in nature but explicitly genocidal.

It is hard to imagine what the PTI legislators could possibly get up to next – perhaps an appearance on the Aamir Liaquat show is in order!

I do not support the PTI and I do not agree with their (or a lack thereof) political ideology. Yet, much of what is being ascribed to PTI these days is more symptomatic of our impatient outlook as a country, rather than the failures of PTI itself.

Despite these guffaws and blunders, it would be childish to dismiss the PTI as a political party. Compared to Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), PTI is still a political infant. It is only in the past three months that the party, as a whole, has tasted power.

Popular argument goes that many of the PTI legislators like Khattak are experienced politicians and should be able to navigate the current situation better. However, it is worth mentioning that a party in power functions well only when it is able to work with itself.

Khattak is certainly an experienced politician but his internal tussle with PTI is a glaring revelation of how the ‘old guard’ of politicians will have a hard time adjusting to the demands of the youth-envisaged PTI. It seems that in the frenzy of the bringing about tabdeeli, Imran Khan focused on the elections and the electorate – he might find his electoral candidates a different matter altogether.

When PTI emerged victorious in the K-P, supporters bragged about K-P’s future as a model for the rest of the country. Less than 90 days in and many seem to have lost hope. The only time tabdeeli gets mentioned is in a satirical manner. We conveniently forget that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also ascended to power at the exact same time and is on par with the PTI in terms of the number of real problems tackled.

Terrorism, for example, is as much a federal issue as it is a provincial one. The same leniency with respect to time in the office is not afforded to the PTI when it comes to K-P. What makes it ironic is the fact that for all their experienced political candidates who have held provincial and national posts previously, PTI is still learning to navigate the bureaucratic jungle.

The violence in K-P cannot simply be attributed to PTI. For PTI to claim responsibility would have been a magnanimous act but their shirking away from the responsibility is in tandem with every single political party in this country. If PTI is to be blamed for the increasing violence in K-P, we could implicate the MQM for volatility in Karachi too, couldn’t we?

Violence combined with a fractious PTI leadership doesn’t fill the masses with confidence either. In order to build a stronger presence in the country, PTI needs to communicate more effectively internally.

MQM, for all its vices, still presents a united front and PTI would do well to learn from them.

When all has been said and done, it is still premature to claim that PTI is digging its own hole just like it was premature to claim a PTI revolution in the elections in May.

As a country, we have displayed infinite patience with our politicians. The way we recycle the same faces and the same names is exemplary – if Nawaz Sharif can be appointed to office for a third time; PPP can ascend to power thrice in the last 25 years; the army can periodically throw governments out, and MQM can continue to run Karachi, what reason is there to think Khan and his merry men won’t be around for the foreseeable future either?


Nabeel Jafri

A finance graduate who worked in the fashion industry and then went back to working in finance, he tweets as @nabeeljafri (twitter.com/nabeeljafri)

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

  • amoghavarshaii

    it is said that ” if u can’t mend it when it is young, you cannot mend when it is old ”
    ” what characterstics you have and acquire when young will continue to be hold when ur old ”

    so PTI will be mercurial as its patron.Recommend

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/unit100malir Faheem

    Now PTI is running the show in KP. But unfortunately we are seeing more bomb blasts and drone attacks in KP than before. However, PTI is not holding any demonstration or long march. Their workers are not stopping NATO supply. Remember they had stopped the NATO supply in past government. Was it only for the votes? Who they will blame this time?Recommend

  • aaaaa

    Khattak outright lied when he said it was a failure of intelligence agencies. That is now an established fact. What can be expected of a man who is change personified, having changed parties 4 times (or is it 5?) before ending up in PTI. Honesty is usually the first thing to go when you have no principles.

    “We conveniently forget that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also ascended to power at the exact same time and is on par with the PTI in terms of the number of real problems tackled.”

    Irrelevant. PTI is held to a different standard because that’s how they marketed their party. PMLN never said we will finish corruption in 90 days.

    PTI is solely to blame for this jail break, given that they had all the information before hand, as will Shabaz Sharif if this happens in Punjab, as will Qaim Ali Shah if this happens in Sindh, as will Dr. Malik if this happens in Balochistan.Recommend

  • Pak

    But the truth is that it was the responsibility to made security arrangement when this jail was hot spotted by intelligence agencies. But they failed again.Recommend

  • Pak

    But the truth is that it was the responsibility of provincial government to made security arrangement when this jail was hot spotted by intelligence agencies. But they failed again.Recommend

  • Gulab

    Yes, for sure. PTI is an 18 year old infant. The leader much more than the party looks the party. Only in his case, he is a 60 year old infant. Recommend

  • Parvez

    The answer to the question posed in the title is a simple : YES.
    When you talk the talk, you must be prepared to walk the walk………..obviously PTI is unprepared and to add insult to injury all they can do is find excuses.
    Yes I was a PTI supporter and it is their pathetic doings that has pushed me away.

  • Nawaz Sharif

    Just a small correction. You seem to imply that the KP governor is also a PTI legislator. He is not.
    The governors are appointed by the center, and the current governor Shaukatullah Khan was appointed by the outgoing president, Asif Zardari.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ishfaq

    As now the official letters have been revealed that clearly show that federal agencies warned of the attack on 28-07-2013 and then on 29-07-2013 local ISI officials also issued the same warning. But both letters were completely ignored by the provincial authorities. Not only that but at the time of attack there were 149 cops present in the jail while 150 were resting in the police lines. And they offered MINIMUM or NO resistance. WHY???
    The fight went on for the whole night but the provincial IG only bothered to visit D.I.Khan when army signaled all ok.Recommend

  • advocate

    What about target killings in Karachi and the horrible situation in Balochistan is PTI responsible for them also ??Recommend

  • Mehdi

    I highly implore IK to go back to academia and learn more on governance. Recommend

  • csmann

    It is very hard to follow what the author is trying to say.If PTI is to blame,which it is,then say it loud and clear.Why beat about the bush with random and contradictory arguments.Recommend

  • Ameer

    @Author: ‘In lieu of’ means INSTEAD OF. Could not understand what you meant to say in the very first line.

    Absolutely startling level of English. Pitifully poor. Not to mention a plethora of other flaws; all sorts of opinions touted as fact.Recommend

  • http://India Feroz

    Is anybody resigning or are they waiting for a couple of more jail breaks before putting in their papers ? With PTI ruling KP should Imran Khan not move to Peshawar at least, if not North Waziristan. Should he not be close to like minded folks he wishes to talk with ?Recommend

  • Dancing troy

    Why ET bhai why? You censor my comment because i used the word coward for a certain political party. Its ok et. You are a good guy but you are majboor. Still if a party cant call a spade a spade, they are either blind or the above word…Recommend

  • Hanzala

    People are looking for will atleast.leave the luxury aside ,they have not bthered to show the will even.They are in the state of denial outwardly,though,inwardly they are feeling embarrasment in facing the realities `


  • http://GoogleChrome Hamza

    @advocate Your question is quite imature…PTI is being blamed for the D.I jail break because it is their government in KPK. And this jail break is most certainly not the fault of intelligence agencies like CM Khattak has fondly put it, they did their job by warning of a possible attack on a jail, it was the PTI-led KPK government that failed to act in a proper way Recommend

  • Khanzada

    PTI and its leadership do not consider taliban as terrorists nor do they condemn them so how can they convince the law enforcement agencies operating under them in KPK to fight the terrorists and give sacrifices. Recommend

  • http://leftsideoftherightbrain.blogspot.com/ Jamaluddin

    I think the blog title is kind of misleading. Recommend

  • yousufzai

    “If PTI is to be blamed for the increasing violence in K-P, we could implicate the MQM for volatility in Karachi too, couldn’t we?”

    When they did have a mayor, Karachi did amazing. Imagine what all of Pakistan would be like if they were responsible for all of it. But no, we’re too racist and/or misinformed as a nation for that. We’ll go with the repackaged ancient political class and system instead.

    well then, good luck!Recommend

  • Karachiwala

    If PTI is to be blamed for the increasing violence in K-P, we could implicate the MQM for volatility in Karachi too, couldn’t we?<

    Excuse me here, you (all pakistan) always blame MQM for everything wrong in Karachi in a decided manner.
    even though You (All Pakistan) know it that Sindh never had a MQM CM…but even then You ()
    blame each and everything on MQM…

    I was shocked and laughing out loud- at the current President election, that the whole media is just asking Why you include MQM???
    as if they want to see a bitter fight between MQM and other parties or Just somehow totally Alienate MQM from Pakistan Political Arena..

    Here also, you just put that lie in 1 go. reader would find another point to BASH MQM, since you wrote “we could” as if the media never implicated anything to MQM.
    the world knows this as yellow journalism!Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    This is again “opinion” section worth article. Well done.Recommend

  • Ali Shahzad

    Yes PTI should be held responsible and they should correct them selves.
    FATA has to be controlled to have peace in KPK. Majority of the Attacks are in Places that are bodering FATA.

    Do you seriously expect the Police to stop the terroist from FATA crossing over.

    Lets be Fair. Do you think Police in any part of the Pakistan would have stopped this attack ?

    Yes PTI said that they would eliminate Terrorism but for that they need Political / Military Power at a federal level.

    100 Milatants along with Suicide bombers cross from South Waziristan and attack a Prison. Would you blame the provincial governement with police at their disposal does the blame lie on the Federal Government in control of South Waziristan and Pakistan Army at their Disposal ? Recommend

  • likewise

    Governor KP has nothing to do with PTIRecommend

  • Baloch Insafian

    Governor KPK is not from PTI….Didn’t Consider it reading further! :)Recommend

  • Usman

    Pakistanis are a nation ridden with cynicism and inferiority complexes. You’re demanding a Swiss level of Govt. from your own citizens just because PTI is in power? Why not try and help them then, rather than bashing the only party that is at least trying to make an effort.Recommend

  • Sane

    It was a ‘purchased’ one.Recommend

  • Overseas Pakistani in the US

    PTI is responsible for Inflation in Pakistan
    PTI is responsible for corruption in Pakistan
    PTI is responsible for the drone attacks
    PTI is responsible for the Load Shedding
    PTI is responsible for Gas shortage
    PTI is responsible for Water shortage
    PTI is responsible for ‘Thanna Culture’
    PTI is responsible for ‘Patwari Culture’

  • vaqas

    Pti just maybe not be resposible for those attacks in other provinces ( on the other hand, it might very well be ) And start preparing to give them the fate i have already mentioned.Recommend

  • Go zardari go

    It hasn’t been 50 days and people want Pakistan to transform into England. KP is the most lawless province in the country and you people expect it to change overnight. 90 days you say the only thing khan said was that in 90 days executive corruption will be eliminated. The rest will take time. The journey has just begun, there are attacks today there will be attacks tomorrow. However to be fair give it a couple of years before exacting judgement. Recommend

  • Sane

    @ Moderator

    Is this forum is to be used for publishing comments as you like? Or the policy blah blah……. It is better to omit my comments if not fits to your standards instead of publishing which I never said. May be you are saying that some are not wanted on this forum. I have noticed that you publish all such comments which are against Islam or Pakistan, but when such comments are answered either are omitted or edited.Recommend

  • LOK

    No it’s not PTI and JI who are in power in KPK. Blame it on MQM, PPP, ANP, BMP, PML-N/Q, PKMAP.Recommend

  • PakiUSA

    We also couldn’t mend NS when he was young and we couldn’t again now – his gaffs as recent as allying with MQM is a glaring example that immaturity is not a deterrent to a political winRecommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/18383/di-khan-prison-break-is-the-pti-to-blame/ Tariq

    Friends Yesterday night I saw a talk show of Asma Shirazi.Just before the closing of the show Asma Sherazi asked a question from Shaukat Yousuf Zai(PTI LEADER and minister of KPK assembly)
    Shaukat Yousuf Zai didn’t say yes.
    This question was repeated dozens of time by Asma just say yes or no.
    But he didn’t say that we(PTI)will fight against taliban.
    This should be an eye opener that what PTI is?There should be no wonder that this kind of incident would take place in KPK and DI KHAN incident was pre-planned.It is evident that PTI is backing taliban.
    Now I want to ask my Karachities who voted PTI.
    Is all this was for which you voted PTI?
    Do you want our beloved karachi to be like KPK?
    Do you want our beloved karachi to be ruled by taliban?
    Do you want to be lashed over some minor issues which is illegitimate in the eyes of taliban?
    Do you want to lead your life according to their wishes?
    Do you want our women to be beaten by taliban when alone outside?

    No one and no place has been left from being hit by taliban.
    When children are being killed,mosques,hospital,schools are destroyed then what good u can expect from them.They don not kiss you their bullet will kiss you,indeed.
    For God sake my dear karachities do not support this pro-taliban party.otherwise we will be killing ourselves with our own hands.PTI is not what is was claiming.Thier real face is taliban.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/18383/di-khan-prison-break-is-the-pti-to-blame/ Tariq

    Dear author

    Volatility in Karachi in not only due to MQM.In karachi dozens of outfits including taliban and People aman committee are functioning.SC has already told that all political and religious parteis in karachi have armed wing.Perhaps you don’t know Karachi that’s why you are blaming MQM blindly.Whereas in KPK taliban is the only outfit functioning out there.In sindh PPP has been governing and MQM has been a part of it,so it becomes the PPP’s responsibility to ensure peace in Sindh not MQM.Remember governing and part of governing team are two different things,don’t assume it one thing.If you are blaming PTI in KPK for terrorism because it’s governmnet is there then you should blame PPP for volatility in Sindh or Karachi.If you have desire to blame MQM then drag all other parties in karachi and JI as well,who is in KPK government.You said MQM, for all its vices, still presents a united front.Who you are to decide good or bad?Now you will tell us how to differ vice from virtue.
    Would it sound better if I ask you let me know your own credibilityRecommend

  • http://gujrat RAW is WAR

    Yes. Imm the dim is responsible.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    ‘in lieu of DI Khan’ confused me as well; maybe the ‘Author’ has misunderstood the meaning ‘in place of’ as it is not at some place but in place of something (instead of).

    i think ET should review articles and sort out such literary mistakes.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Blame PTI for not being able to prevent the attack and criticize them for not taking responsibility. Fine, but what about the hundreds of terrorist attacks happened before; killing thousands of people. Has anyone took responsibility of any of the attack? I know every time a terrorist attack occurs, PM, Interior M, CM all say ‘we condemn these attacks..’ but they never ‘take responsibility nor ‘show commitment to take action against terrorism’.

    My friends, we are living in a nation of indifferent politician and ignorant people.Recommend

  • Nishant

    if the comments on facebook are to be believed
    the same day the islamabad airport was pushed to high alert
    and roads were blocked, but only for 1 day,
    was that to transport the “prisoners” to syria Recommend

  • vaqas

    Haha. The whole body of my comment has disappeared. Now it just sounds like the ravings of a drunk madman. Cheers et for making me look so eloquent.Recommend