Five baseless criticisms against PTI’s long march

Published: August 10, 2014

While many legitimate questions can be raised on PTI’s intricacies, there have been some unfounded criticisms on its long march, which one does not have to be a ‘PTI jiyala’ to notice. PHOTO: QASIM USMAN

For a good part of our history, we have treated the army as a sacred cow; a holy entity entrusted with the protection of all, going against which would allow our enemy to overtake us. Hence the whole nation has kept quiet on whatever the army did under the ‘doctrine of necessity’.

Now, it seems, the position of that sacred cow has been taken by our dear democracy. Murders have been veiled, corruption allowed and fundamental rights of the people have been suspended, all in the name of democracy. And whenever a voice rises against this tyranny, it is suppressed under the good old phrase of ‘jhamooriat ko khatra’ (danger to democracy).

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) is set to hit Islamabad on August 14 because it believes the 2013 elections were rigged and the current government is a sham democracy. While many legitimate questions can be raised on PTI’s intricacies, there have been some unfounded criticisms on its long march, which one does not have to be a ‘PTI jiyala’ to notice.

Here are a few of those criticisms and their correct responses:

1. Rigging was only done on 10 to 15 seats, so there is no point in all the brouhaha

Firstly, it is hard to understand how the ‘10 to 15’ figure is so vehemently circulating in the social media. As of now, rigging has been proved in 14 constituencies of provincial and national assemblies. But is it really about the numbers? Should it be about the numbers?

Legitimacy of the polls is questionable even if one vote was rigged. It is a fundamental, constitutional right of every citizen to elect his/her representative and theft of that right must be protested against. Democracies thrive on principles, not by compromising on principles.

2. While the North Waziristan operation is going on, PTI must stand with the administration

Although PTI had been building up the momentum for the long march through its rallies, it called off its Bahawalpur jalsa and the announcement of the long march after the operation initiated. It only revoked its decision after the Model Town incident happened in June, which took 14 lives. So if anybody is to be blamed for not adjusting to the situation, it’s the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government whose aggression in Model Town triggered the current political turmoil.

3. Imran Khan just wants to become the prime minister, hence all the fuss

PTI knows that it did not possess the grass root level of support or the infrastructure to win the 2013 elections. Its internal report also identifies its own shortcomings as a major reason for its defeat. PTI would obviously prefer more time to increase its support-base. Also, the longer the PML-N’s tenure the stronger the incumbency factor against it is likely to be. Hence, in the case of mid-term polls, PTI would be the biggest loser.

4. Imran Khan is inciting state officials for civil disobedience

While Dr Tahirul Qadri has been openly ordering his followers to deal with the policemen with force, PTI has so far maintained that it will demonstrate peacefully. Imran Khan, however, has asked the policemen and civil servants to not act unlawfully and statements like these are quintessential of any anti-government movement.

Nawaz Sharif himself, during his movement in 2009, asked the police to refuse to accept orders from the government. At one rally in Gujranwala, a policeman presented his cap and belt to Nawaz and was garlanded on the stage by PML-N leadership.

5. PTI should call off the long march as it can result in imposition of martial law

This brings us to the initial point regarding the sacred cows and doctrine of necessity. Martial law is unconstitutional and engaging in a peaceful movement is any party’s constitutional right. Something constitutional does not necessarily have to be abandoned on the fear of something unconstitutional.

In any case, boys with barrels do not need PTI to take charge. They never did.

The government had 14 months to deal with the impending political crisis it is facing today. A thorough audit of the ‘famous four’ constituencies could have averted the prevailing situation. Instead, the government went by its delaying tactics, hiding behind stay orders, procedural inefficiencies and institutional red tapes. Now, although it would be great to celebrate another independence day with the same old fervour of national unity, but as a matter of principle, criticising PTI’s long march is just not right.

Muhammad Mutahir Ali

Muhammad Mutahir Ali

A political science student at Lahore University of Management Sciences(LUMS) who likes to write on local Politics and International Affairs.

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

  • Politically incorrect

    Democracy is over rated, third world countries like Pakistan need centralized stable governance for a long period with an iron fist, that’s how South Korea,Singapore,China,Taiwan there’s a even a famous Greek philospher whose name I can not recall, he said something about anarchy to democracy or something but i think y’all get the gist.

    Even in Western societies there is a growing consensus that democracy is a con and the electoral system is messed up.Recommend

  • Bala

    Long live Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz, Long march is not required,If all are with Imran or Qadri then all are with Nawaz as well, go to courts or election commission or raise voice in national assembly not on streets, bring no confidence if you cane, I do not agree with the writer, he sees no wrong on PTI and so his views seem biasedRecommend

  • Ralf

    To use the Model Town incident as a means to conduct the long march is, in itself, not legitimate. Being a PTI supporter , one safely wants to assume that the Model Town incident is merely the outcome of the ‘government’s aggression’. However, an investigation needs to be conducted over this incident so that questions pertaining to the whys’ and the hows’ are answered. But, before such an investigation takes place, one is absolutely wrong to blame this whole incident on the government and merely use this incident as a means to create havoc in the country, That my friend, is also truly very undemocratic.Recommend

  • Sarmad

    After Supreme Court’s July 2009 verdict against emergency everyone was dancing that now there will be no more Martial Laws, door to Martial is closed forever, so what now? Why this all fuss about Army take over?Recommend

  • Hamza Asad

    Bro they will cry all day,
    because the day he comes , in ki rozi roti band ho jai gi.

    P.S He had been asking politely for 14 monthsRecommend

  • Hira Kamal

    Spot on. A great article in these times of insanity. Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Yes, you have a right to protest.

    Meanwhile, I have a right to not have my business being harmed by juvenile political forces and their monthly inqalabi fits. How many revolutionary marches have there been so far? Nine? I’ve lost count.

    PTI require an introductory course to realpolitik. I say openly that PML-N is not my choice of government, but I’d still rather not destabilize a functional government and descend into political chaos over a matter of ‘principle’ alone. Real life demands real risk and cost analyses, and not idealistic tsunamis.Recommend

  • Waseeq I Qureshi

    Very well written Muhammad Mutahir Ali, I hope you will also write on the issue of RIGGING IN INTRA PARTY ELECTIONS IN PTI. It’s been 14 + 4 months since PTI has been unable to resolve that issue. My conscience cannot allow me to support PTI for a long march for rigging in general elections and not demand a resolution of the rigging in intra party elections. After all, we clean up our house first and then demand the country to be cleansed as well. I’m hoping you would write on that too as both the issues demand the same level of seriousness.Recommend

  • ToThePoint

    You have gone against the wind my friend. Brace yourself for assault ;)Recommend

  • ranjha

    Its easy to criticise the govt untill one works with political forces, administration and with international agencies. Practically Pkistan has been dominated by the stage actors in the shape of religion, polticians, media and establishment without considering the state interests. The most important unbiased judgement comes from embassies monitoring the political situation in Pakistan and players working in stock exchanges. They were all appreciative of the present government working under the threat of losing votes to PTI. But now this threat will be gone so may be the future performance of the government. I hope this trend continues after this saga is over.
    Furthermore when electioon happened in most part of the third world irregularties do happen mostly not because of the administration but because of the mix of voters, administrations and more so by the poltical intolerance. However i would like to say that this protest was warranted when poltical agents were signing the vote count at each poling station. More then 70 percent of the complaints have been decided by the tribunals. There is not going to be any martial law nor government will lose rather people of Pakistan will lose the competition of developmental politics which was the result of recent elections. Imran khan has led the players of 11 people selected and disciplined. but working with larger people of different diversity requires tolerance and patience which most of the political forces are lacking including PTI. PTI must have shown power through better governance and developmental strategy in KPK. But practically they have also to show the result. Event if PTI comes into power it will not lose its support quickly but present development will be derailed. so they have to wait and show performance in KPK. I will be vote them again as i gave to them like this time. Comparatively PML N is working better then PTI. And if they lose government due to present agitation they will be easily winning the election again because the previously PTI was not part of the government in any province.Recommend

  • me


  • S. Waqas

    Hind sight is always the 20/20Recommend

  • Nick

    I voted for IK. That being said, I think you summed it up in this paragraph:

    “PTI knows that it did not possess the grass root level…Hence, in the case of
    mid-term polls, PTI would be the biggest loser.”

    At times, you must give up a battle in order to win the war. I would rather PTI focused its energy on improving KPK even further than losing momentum and energy on an anti-rigging campaign that poses a real threat to the very existence of PTI in the long term. Ideally, we shouldn’t tolerate a single rigged vote. But would PTI be able to serve Pakistan better by being in power, or outside?Recommend

  • Waseem

    A man is known by the company he keeps.Recommend

  • Waseem

    As I understand from people who know better that he played only county cricket for Oxford or had good time in England. And of course, I am happy for his achievements on both scores. As for his vision, you must be joking. He has not yet proven his capabilities in KPK. And pray tell me honestly, if you find anything profound in his speeches, press conferences and on TV .He has been agitating all these months and trying to cause anarchy in the country. He is a cry-baby and that is the burden of my song. If he wins, the elections were fair; where he loses , he shouts foul and goes hoarse. With all respect, he is no leader. And please convey to him that if he has not grown up in 62 years, he is not likely to grow up in the years to come!Recommend

  • ab

    well PTI is new to the setup and maybe IK is acting immature but what about our two mian sahabz. 30 years in politics and still very pathetic display. things never change for some. my point of view is that it is ok if you don’t support PTI but PMLN has lost all the moral ground to rule. PML N will not do wonder in 1 year but seeing the direction in which they are going in bad governance and corruption in 2050 they will be saying the same thing as they are saying in 2014.

    i wonder where will be the country be in 2017 if PML N is still there.Recommend

  • Omer Masood Sadiq

    You forgot the most important one:
    6) PTI has failed to deliver in KPK and are trying to distract people from their real failure.

    The problem with this criticism is that there is no quantitative measure used as its basis. Just because we are not seeing advertisements using KPK funds does not mean there has been no progress. Steps have been taken. The critics argue it has not been enough and the situation is more or less the same as it has always been.
    But who is to judge that? The Answer: The people of KPK!
    According to a most recent Gallup polls, PTI is the only party that has an approval rating of over 50% in their province. No other party comes close to these figures.
    Those are some real good figures for a party that is supposedly ‘failing’.Recommend

  • nyc

    Awesome…Just, awesome!Recommend

  • Aik-Paki

    I tell you 2017 with PML-N. Pakistan will have around 30-40 billion additional loans with 3-4 more bridges or flyovers in Lahore. May a Metro-bus in Karachi sucking another Rs3-4billion per year from the budget.Recommend

  • Imm the DIM

    If Imran khan is that clean then please PTI followers explain certain things to me so that I can join him and his protest against the government:

    Remember Imran khan’s speeches against Sheikh rasheed many years ago? According to him Sheikh rasheed would not be hired by him even as a sweeper. He was against the musharraf regime and Sheikh Rasheed was in that government. So how come Sheikh Rasheed became his trusted friend all of a sudden? Did he get cleaned by passing through the Imran’s cleaning machine?

    Imran Khan can blame anyone if he wishes to and then promises that proof of those will follow although they never do. He blamed certain people before this march for rigging and then said proof will be given in the march. I was anxiously waiting but he did not give any proof. That means there never was any proof just his imagination?

    Its been a year for Nawaz Sharif’s government and he compares him to cruel dictators of certain muslim countries who had been ruling for many years. So if Imran fails to improve things in the country after one year he would also be considered with the likes of Hosni Mubarak?

    He considers election commission lead by Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim an accomplice to this crime of rigging but I still remember when Fakhruddin was appointed for the election commission Imran Khan on GEO TV accepted this and endorsed this. So why did he become a criminal all of a sudden when he lost the election?

    Imran Khan says Nawaz Sharif has family members in politics and blames him for running this govt as a family business but then why are Imran’s sisters in politics? Why does CM KPK has his family members in the KPK assembly? Well as long as Khan’s people do it its justified because well yeah he won the world cup, which he reminds everyone after every minute.

    And yeah PTI followers, I stood in line for 8 hours to vote for PTI and did so as to bring change in the assemblies not to topple a government and bring martial law.Recommend

  • nust

    Interesting, for my acquaintances from KPK are relating a very different narrative!Recommend

  • Omer Masood Sadiq

    Individuals may have different opinions. However, we have to look at the collective narrative, not mine or yours.

    The collective narrative is supporting PTI, some individuals agree with it or not.Recommend