Is the PTI tsunami over already?

Published: August 26, 2013

No one is saying the last general elections were all clean and pure but people find it difficult to believe the PTI’s rhetoric about the elections being rigged everywhere except KPK. PHOTO: AFP

“It’s just a blast, not the end of the world”

This statement, made by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa ex-information minister Shaukat Yousafzai, on a suicide attack killing 16 people shows arrogance, ignorance and lack of experience to run a government in a stressful situation.

It isn’t surprising, thus, that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lost badly in the biggest ever by-elections in Pakistani history. They lost both the seats vacated by its Chairman Imran Khan with Ghulam Ahmad Bilour emerging as victor of the seat NA-1 in Peshawar and Ubaidullah Khan Shadi Khel (PML-N) of NA-71 in Mianwali.

Tragic news indeed for PTI. So, how exactly did they lose?

Bad decisions: Locking horns with Maulana Fazlur Rehman

Imran Khan locked horns with Maulana Fazlur Rehman in hopes of taking the space of the broken MMA in the general election, betting on support from the Jamaat-e-Islami and undeclared support from the TTP.

This was a gross miscalculation on his behalf, as being a right wing party this wasn’t the best strategy. Maulana used demagoguery (emotion) in reaction and won many over with this tactic.

This left the space open for a secular party like ANP to use the Maulana’s reaction to win over the seats that the Maulana couldn’t!

‘Speaking’ with the enemy: The Taliban infatuation 

Imran Khan stated many times that the harsh stance towards the Taliban is the only reason the people of KPK have been suffering and that his soft method of dialogue can work on these “monsters of death”.

This was another miscalculation, which threw all pro-Taliban argument out of the window when they, the Taliban, successfully carried out the DI Khan jail break, inhumanly decapitated Shia prisoners and committed other shameless atrocities.

The PTI government specifically asked the media not to use the word “condemnation” in their “we are concerned” press statement on the incident.

This did not resonate with people as PTI’s method of ‘speaking’ with the enemy clearly failed.

Broken promises: The farce of change in 90 days

Voters in KPK in specific and in Pakistan in general, were under the impression that the PTI had a proactive team ready, with their homework in hand, to come up with some radical changes in the system from day one. Imran Khan’s so-called “change in 90 days” jingle, however, became a joke when his team started using bitter old lines like, “it is worse than we expected”.

They didn’t deliver and the people made note.

Power to the Jamaat: Weakness to PTI  

To hold power in KPK, Imran Khan had earlier presented Jamaat-e-Islami with the education ministry – a ministry in which Khan also planned to put the biggest chunk of his budget. To be able to teach their ideology to children has always remained a lifelong dream for the Jamaat.

Fortunately, the PTI later overturned this decision, but the damage was done.

PTI had alienated possible secular voters; what PTI may not have realised is that in its efforts to further please Jamaat-e-Islami, its liberal voters, who had severe reservations about Jamaat-e-Islami’s ideology, were left stunned and dejected. This caused ripples in the vote bank.

Sore losers: Blame it all on ‘rigging’

No serious analyst predicted more than 30 to 40 seats to go to the PTI for the national assembly in the general elections, but Imran Khan kept claiming an imminent white wash of his self-titled tsunami. Apparently, and not surprisingly, this never happened.

Now, the Pakistani voter has grown tired of listening to the “R” word (rigging) after every election.

Yes, no one is saying that the last general elections were all ‘clean and pure’ but people find it difficult to believe PTI’s rhetoric about the elections being rigged everywhere except KPK; this sore loser attitude did not sit well with voters.

It all boils down to indecisiveness

Quite visibly, the PTI leadership is indecisive about whether they should act as a strong, staunch, loud opposition in the national assembly, or as a model provincial government in KPK.

If PTI’s election campaigns were to be believed, they had portrayed themselves as visionaries and bearers of a national model for the country. Now, however, to tailor itself to a province that is underdeveloped, conservative and under constant attack from religious miscreants, is proving to be no easy feat.

Ostensibly, it’s not an easy road ahead for the PTI at all. ANP and Maulana Fazlur Rehman will make life hard for Chief Minister Pervez Khattak and his coalition government in KPK. At the centre, PTI will be facing experienced rivals like the PPP and PML-N and to make matters worse, the media will be scrutinising every single tongue slip, promise and slogan of ‘change’ as per the election campaign, to see if it matches PTI’s ‘before elections’ stance.

Many “career politicians” and “seasonal birds” will steer away from the PTI towards other “juicy” options. This can already be seen in the rise of organisational discipline issues in KPK, making it harder for the leadership to sort things out without compromising the adhesiveness of the party.

Having said as much, it is without a doubt that PTI’s inclusion to the Pakistani political sphere was a positive sign for the country. The fact that PTI was able to stir a sleeping country back to consciousness and make them start believing in dying concepts like democracy and parliamentary politics shows the change that has already taken place in our political history.

However, it is now time for PTI to recall its leadership to the drawing board, come up with a well agreed strategy and well thought modus operandi; they cannot skate by on rhetoric any longer because the people are looking, and as is proven by the results of the by-election, they don’t like what they are seeing.

Ahsan Raza

Ahsan Raza

A London based blogger who completed his MBA from Edinburgh Business School. He works for a Solicitors Company as an IT Strategist and tweets @AhsanRazaUK (

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

  • Nawaz Sharif

    Every thing is wrong because of PTI. No body else is every at fault. Thank you ET for opening my eyes YET again.Recommend

  • p

    haha what a funny article…how deluded u rRecommend

  • waqar

    @ Ahsan Raza
    you are absolutely rite! IK should learn humbleness, maturity, politics, patience, selection of words, future assessment etc etc etc above all Politics.
    What happened in NA-1 and especially in Khi should be 1st page 1st chapter 1st lesson in text book of PTI Recommend

  • Jamshed M

    For your information PTI have already won 3 NA seats in KPK .. which they vacated .. though they lost NA-1 but they are winning on NA-27 Lakki Marwat which they lost in general election by the margin of 60,000 .. though results are withheld due to repolling on 9 polling stations but PTI already have significant lead over opponent .. similarly in NA-5 PTI is winning by over 20,000 votes result of this seat is also withheld due to repolling on few polling stations … PTI is very strong on NA-25 Dera Ismail Khan which PTI lost in general elections by the margin of 40,000 votes so overall PTI will be going with 1 more NA seat from KPK after by elections are over. Recommend

  • Faisal

    Good Analysis!! but be ready for the Tsunami now. Recommend

  • My God

    Decapitated Shia prisoners ?!!!Recommend

  • TahirF1

    Excellent analysisRecommend

  • Khan

    The author lives in UK, works for a solicitor company as an IT analyst. No surprise then that his grasp of events in Pakistan is so glaringly one sided. Recommend

  • Taher

    Excellent analysisRecommend

  • Nadeem

    They lost because there are 2 candidates of PTI standing against each other in the election and distributed the vote bank of PTI, total votes those 2 PTI candidates secure is more than ANP’s candidate ( Ghulam Ahmed Bilour)Recommend

  • Zardari

    Wrong analysis.

    While I agree that PTI is struggling in KPK at the moment.. I think that the main reasons for their defeat in NA-1 are

    1- IK’s charisma is unmatched, so it was difficult for PTI to generate same level of enthusiasm with another candidate. IK won because of his own charisma, not because of name of PTI.. in his absence the second best candidate of that area (Haji Ghulam Bilour) won

    Same thing happened in Mianwali

    2- Weak candidate was put forward by PTI which was controversial not only within the party but also outside the party

    3- Plus, lack of contact of PTI leadership with people in KPK.. ANP leaders used to attend funerals of martyred people while PTI leadership (Asad Umer specifically) used to say ‘will the dead come back if we attend funeral’

    4- Family politics.. Parvez Khattak’s son in law, Asad Qaiser’s brother all were given tickets, PK’s relative women were awarded reserve seats.. all these factors contributed to this result.. Recommend

  • Dp

    What’s with the obsession with beheading ? Disgusting, in this day and age.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ishfaq

    PTI’s days are far from over yet…. there are some internal as well as external problems/challenges but over all the party is here to stay.
    They need to concentrate more on KPK affairs and to stop the blame game.
    Plus I feel IK needs sometime alone…. away from all this mayhem and he should reflect on his own mistakes, his own weaknesses. The sooner he does that the better it will be for his party.Recommend

  • saqib

    A perfect Article for Not so Perfect Party PTI, Though their Follower insist like losers that they are Perfect. Recommend

  • Tribune Reader

    This was pretty much expected that the Tsunami would die out, the loss of those 2 NA seats shocked even me and I personally never liked PTI or got blown away by their unrealistic words.Recommend

  • Yousaf

    Calm down I think you got nothing better to do on bank holiday so start writing down this article which doesn’t make sense at all..
    Before your write this sort of article go and live in KPK Pakistan! not in uk & just start talking over the phone getting information by media they all sucks…
    Media are getting money to accused Imran Khan…
    Explain me what did Mr Nawaz Saab & Mr Zardari did for Pakistan? How much Bribe they took so far? How much they steal?
    One incident happened you bring whole 90 days.. What a joke
    He lost in mianwali not because of his wrong candidate he lost because Imran khan left his home seat & people were really upset! he shouldn’t have with draw from his home town
    And Shadi Khel got advantage to win.. Listen go and do you home work first before you write things about N-71 by the way you are outsider and won’t thing even you went there in personal & Ask people there…
    What party you support? MQM PPP or Muslim league? Recommend

  • Hassan

    The writer is trying to whip up a storm in a tea cupRecommend

  • Saad

    WHAT tsunami? …. If it was Imran/PTI’s tsunami then it would have certainly shown in the by-elections …. which they lost miserably. ….. I believe the large number of voters (the tsunami) that came out to vote both for PTI (7.6 million) and against (roughly 14 million) on 11th may was because of the poor governance by PPP…. Imran Khan just took credit for an act (bringing out millions of voters) he didn’t have any role in doing. He has a bad habit of stealing credit. Remember the 1993 World Cup acceptance speech, anyone?Recommend

  • Hassan

    Never seen a better example of “mountain out of molehill” quoteRecommend

  • Mohammad Arif

    @Nawaz Sharif: Hahaha……Yes, you are right. PTI is responsible for the terrorism in Pakistan (terrorism of the last 25 years), PTI is responsible for economic collapse of the country, PTI is responsible for increasing prices, dollars going strong and every other imaginable things. What a shame on media and this writer. Please give them at least five years time.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Imran Khan and his PTI party have made many mistakes and are still finding their ‘ sea legs ‘ to stand on the deck of a rolling political boat. The one thing that stands out is that the slightest mistake made by them is put under the microscope while any good that happens is largely ignored.Recommend

  • Saad

    haina? …. if nawaz sharif wipes his nose with his right hand rather than his left … you people go all crazy criticizing him on social media …… whereas when PTI FAILS to deliver on ALL of its MAJOR promises … then you come along saying such stuff ….. way to go cult follower!Recommend

  • John

    Has the author written this from his cubicle in the IT department or a cave in a desert? Either way it’s blind to the reality, which is that PTI is a force to be reckoned with henceforth. Exhibit A – it secured second highest overall votes in general and highest in by-elections. Now those are facts. The rest is hearsay. Peace.Recommend

  • Saad

    We intend to give them their full tenure but they have to deliver on what they promise, when they promise it ….. they promised a paradigm shift in the first 90 days of power … and people listened, they expected …. they dont expect you to just joke arounf like that ….. if you cant deliver then dont make huge promises in the first place

    P.S. by “you”, i’m referring to PTI here.Recommend

  • Zara

    do u guys seriously think that ppl in pakistan go through a ‘thought process’ before casting their vote. If it would have been this way then surely Bilour wouldn’t have won. Isn’t he the same guy who is responsible for Railway crisis.Recommend

  • Hassan


    Nawaz Sharif is in government for the third time in center, and 6th time in Punjab. Comparing him with 2 month’s of Imran’s PTI in KP is apple with oranges.Recommend

  • Pak

    hahahaha… Great analysis… That’s why i didn’t support this man in election because i knew that this would happen. A man who couldn’t change himself then how he would change our country. bari bari bat tain hm hm hm krty thy… Recommend

  • Hasan

    To the author, I present two potent traits of a tsunami:
    1. The first wave of a tsunami is usually not the strongest, successive waves get bigger and stronger.
    2. If caught by a tsunami wave, it is better not to swim, but rather grab a floating object and allow the current to carry you.

    Resistance is futile :) As a great author once said, news of this demise is greatly exaggerated. Salaam.Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi

    IK is god, IK is charismatic, IK is handsome, IK is honest, IK has a team, CHANGE, Tsunami, PTI will end corruption in 19 days, will make KPK a model province within 90 days, Election rigging yadda yadda yadda blah blah blah blah blah blah!!

    For crying out loud the sheep herd followers of a personality cult – can’t y’all ever take criticism with a pinch of salt?Recommend

  • RizwanKhan

    Hold your horses. Dont be so hasty. Hasty decisions are evidence of immaturity. Recommend

  • ibrahim

    The only tactic on ET to get more comments is to bash pti and this is a successful technique being employed by many infamous blogers!Recommend

  • waqar

    The author is asking so many questions from PTI and Imran Khan and declared PTI govt. a failure in just 70 days. I have only one question for author…how much you got inside the “LIFAFA” to write such a factless article and thinking by writing such a piece of crap you would be able to de-moralize PTI supporters.Recommend

  • Pappu

    I am happy that at least PTI has provided this otherwise stagnant nation and media something to talk about. In that sense it is a Tsunami in PPP and PMLN dead sea.Recommend

  • Adnan Siddiqi


    Just see the voter turnout in NA-1 and NA-48 and you’d realize that its PTI and IK who are solely responsible for the demoralization of PTI’s voters/supporters. No person inhis right frame of mind would consider spending even a dime (LIFAFA) to diss PTI.Recommend

  • Peter Pan

    A very balanced article. The comments from PTI supporters attacking it are typical of the cyber fascists that they are. Recommend

  • Fiz

    What this party needs is “experience” to handle things with dignity and for that matter they need to give “tarbyat” to their supporters. Secondly, to revamp some of their views e.g talking with talibans. Whom are you going to talk to when the concerned party is not interested in talking with you. You cannot force the horse to drink water.Recommend

  • Naveed Alam Khattak

    Excellent Rubbish!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Suleman Jamil

    You are bald, right?Recommend

  • Khan

    @Suleman Jamil:
    Hahah. Excellent observation. Birds of a feather n all (_8(|)Recommend

  • Haris

    @Peter Pan:
    Typical pea brained response, no logic all bluster. Grow up.Recommend

  • s.rehman

    Dream on mister…PTI is here to stay…has loyal supporters,inshallah IK has good and nobel intentions and he will one day make it happen,everybody makes mistakes so what even if PTI is making some they are educated,informed people they will rectify them soon..and CHANGE WILL COME..Recommend

  • Z Khan

    no research done by the writer. the simple reason for losing NA 1 is that PTI made a blunder by nominating a controversial figure to take on the seasoned politician Bilour. the moment they announced their candidate against Bilour, I knew who is going to be celebrating on 22nd of August. Bilour didn’t have to do much after was easy picking for him.
    your argument regarding locking horns with Maulana is also misplaced. Maulana has already lost Lakki Marwat NA seat to PTI and he is going to lose the other seat of Tank cum DI Khan to PTI Dawar Khan Kundi. so in other words confrontation with Mullah paid off handsomely for PTI as he was exposed to the general public big time.Recommend

  • Anticorruption

    Well, bielections are usually contested on local issues and besides, one or two seats don’t mean much. I would agree with you on the recent jail break and PTI’s stance on Taliban, but that is not why they lost the bielection, and I would not extrapolate that to call the PTI govt a complete failure. As for governance, Imran never promised miracles within 90 days. What he promised was that there would be a major shift in the direction of the govt. In my opinion, the party has already taken some big steps in this regard, the plan to create an accountability commission and setting up a local govt system being among them. They have also passed a very good freedom of information law which is getting a lot of praise from experts on that subject. You can read more on that here:

  • Too personal

    @Suleman Jamil

    You either agree with the blog or don’t. No point stooping low and calling the author bald.Recommend

  • Ali

    Pre Poll Rigging.

    Can anyone tell me what would you classify these adds as

    Mobilink ‘Chale to Bale Bale’ (Bat was PTI Election Symbol)

    Telenor ‘Change ko vote deen’ (Change was primarily associated with PTI)

    Q Mobile ‘Jab Q Mobile mein yeah sari chezeen ho sakti hain to aap ki mangeen kyoun naheen poori ho sakti hain’ (Unrealistic demands having the cake and eating it was part and parcel of PTI)

    Nestle ‘Nacch Kyoun Rahe ho Enjoyz le’ (Most people who were following PTI were following it as it became a fashion and status symbol. They supported it without knowing what it stood for)

    There were other adds similar to this if you know what I mean.

    There were more such adds too. My question is are companies allowed to interfere in Elections via media. If it was a part of the Election campaign does such things come under Election Expense Laws.Recommend

  • Jibran

    how can ET publish something without even checking facts; Shoukat Yousafzai has never been K-P information minister.
    the statement about “its just a blast not the end of the world” is also wrongly associated with the minister. It was media which is ever hungry for BREAKING NEWS which has wrongly quoted him, you can watch original assembly session type for confirmation!!! please ET check facts, quotes and figures with your local correspondents before publishing it. It greatly marred your credibility as a objective media outlet.
    think over it. Recommend

  • Khan

    Seems you are close aide of Rana Sanaullah and just digging the bad thinngs Tsunami has the second highest VOTES in Bye Election after PMLN.You expect much in two months from KP govt.It is just a start and you will see in next 5 years a big CHANGE.By the way it seems you are a big opponent of the great Khan and your this article is just making fool the innocent readers but they know what is right and what is wrong.CHANGE CHANGE CHANGE your thought.Recommend

  • Samiullah khatir

    Totally flopped. Recommend

  • Amanzeb Khan

    I wish all these tsunami obituaries could be more subjective. The loss in 2 constituencies is being highlighted without acknowledging victories in the other vacated seats and also a national assembly seat in Lakki Marwat and 3 provincial assembly seats gained. It would also be better if the real causes of the loss in NA-1 are looked at. It is difficult to ignore that all parties had ganged up in support of Bilour. Even so the PTI candidate lost by 5,000 votes only. The turnout was low as interest in byelections was not as much. Families stayed at home and this hurt PTI more as on May-11 a big % of its support came from middle class and upper class families. Recommend

  • John

    I believe your tin foil hat is too tight, loosen it a bit and get some oxygen to your brain. Recommend

  • Abdul Qayyum Khan

    Bad article. sense at allRecommend

  • Nosherwan Shahid Shaikh

    PTI is over and out. Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    Keeping in view Bilour’s win, I guess Tsunami “farigh” hai !!!Recommend

  • sjbj

    So sultan became John the Baptist who now is just John?

    What is your fascinating for people sittling in cubicles? Does it mater where they sit or what tey do for a living?
    Stop making personal attacks.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Saad: I did reply but it did not get through. So again :
    In principle I agree with you but by nature and possibly due to age I have adopted a rather flexible approach. I believe in giving the other ample leeway as long as their intentions are good. If this tortured country could give a government like the PPP five years despite the rampant miss governance that became apparent within two years………then I feel the PTI deserves a little grace.

  • Tajjee

    In Rajanpur PTI candidate won seat left by CM Shahbaz, yet no word about it.Recommend

  • Sane

    If any life remains in Tsunami, will go away in a year. Some stalwarts shall join other parties or quit politics. What role does Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Khurshid Qasoori, Fauzia Qasori, Jawed Hashmi has in PTI.Recommend

  • Kinza

    What was wrong with supporting PTI or Imran Khan? We can’t give up hope, can we? That is Kufr, because it indicates your lack of belief in the Almighty. Wanting to give a new untested party a chance wasn’t a crime so big. First it was supporting the party; now its criticising it that’s in vogue. Give them time, people! Or what other option do you have?Recommend

  • Pakistani

    Hahah, you should either change your nickname or get some professional help to get out of your hopelessly deluded state.Recommend

  • Ilyad

    by the way when did it start?Recommend