Before Naya Pakistan, there is a Nayi PTI in the making

Published: August 6, 2015
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Justice Wajiuddin Ahmed (R), a presidential candidate for PTI addresses a press conference along with party chairman, Imran Khan (L). PHOTO: AFP

I am one of the few people who do not see the Judicial Commission’s (JC) report as Imran Khan’s or Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) defeat. Although Imran’s allegations of organised and planned rigging have been rejected, for lack of evidence, the report seems to agree that the general elections 2013 were largely irregular.

The report is now in and is a public document.

For the first time in Pakistan’s history, an election has been audited as a whole.

The resulting conclusions have exposed most of the irregularities that have, since decades, created opportunity for electoral malpractices. This has provided the parliament and the state with a real opportunity to rid our system of these shortcomings and move towards better and fairer elections in the future.

No political party deserves more credit for this opportunity than PTI.

However, allegations of rigging and foul play, the formation of the JC, its proceedings and subsequent report, are a thing of the past. How PTI reacts in the aftermath of this report would decide its future. The year 2015 may not be the election year after all.

Imran may not get a shot at premiership just yet. He and his party should now be eying the 2018 general elections and begin anew on the path to victory.

Visibly shaken and not very confident, Imran did accept the JC’s report and vowed to learn from past mistakes. That is what progress and improvement is all about, learning from mistakes.

But are Imran and his party on the same page when it comes to identifying ‘past mistakes’? Is Imran’s idea of in-house cleaning in line with that of the party’s ideological supporters?

Since the early months of this year, Imran and Justice (retd) Wajiuddin Ahmed seem to have been at loggerheads with each other. The bone of contention was the alleged irregularities in PTI’s intra-party elections.

While Justice Wajiuddin, head of the party’s election tribunal, recommended fresh elections and action against some big names in Imran’s new PTI, Imran apparently at the behest and under the influence of these big names, seemed more inclined towards rendering Justice Wajiuddin and his findings ineffective.

Justice Wajiuddin has, on very rare occasions, gone public with his sentiments on his party’s inner workings and also on the influence and interference of ‘big names’ in party affairs which is, according to him, causing a loss to the party.

I remember questioning PTI’s legal minds in one of my earlier pieces on the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between PTI and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

The language of the MOU and the Terms of References (TORs) therein were hinting at a potential setback for PTI and I wondered how a party that has legal minds, such as Hamid Khan and Justice Wajiuddin within its ranks, could overlook such obvious lacunas.

Now that Khan and Justice Wajiuddin have both revealed that they were not even a part of the process, my questions stand answered.

Keeping these two gentlemen out of the loop is one of the biggest ‘past mistakes’.

How is PTI learning from it?

Apparently by suspending Justice Wajiuddin’s basic membership of the party.

Imran’s justification for adhering to the requests of his ‘real friends’ is that Justice Wajiuddin acted in violation of Imran’s gag order. The gag order was circulated on August 4th, part of the order states,

 “PTI is a democratic party and members have the right to express their opinion within the party.”

When Justice Wajiuddin appeared on a talk show and re-iterated his reservations, along with his support for and confidence in the party’s chairman, his membership was immediately suspended. I have a feeling that Hamid Khan may be next.

The journey it seems has begun anew. The phase of picking hitchhikers from any and all political parties is almost over, now begins the phase of evicting those who formed the old PTI.

Before Naya Pakistan, there is a Nayi PTI in the making.

PTI is a ‘democratic’ party, one that does not allow freedom of expression. I think I have seen such attitudes somewhere else, oh yes, in PML-N, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and several other political parties. Imran’s ‘change’ is beginning to sound more and more like ‘same’.

Every year, PTI is a little less different, a little less progressive.

I am in no position to advise Imran, primarily because I do not have a ‘big name’, and secondly because I am not a member of his party, and also because maybe I am not that wise.

But there are wise people in Imran’s party. And apparently they are standing in line by the exit door. If PTI wants a shot at the next elections, the chairman has to think things over. Maybe go on a vacation alone. Meditate, introspect, and let him be his own advisor for a few days. Above all, he needs to identify friends from foes, and before beginning to learn from past mistakes, he needs to correctly identify his mistakes.

Imran does have blind fans, just like PPP and PML-N, who will follow Imran anywhere; I am sure to find some in the comments below, but there are ideological, prudent PTI supporters too, ones PTI stands to lose every time it shows the door to people like Justice Wajihuddin.

zafar.zulqurnain.sahi

Zafar Zulqurnain Sahi

A Lawyer by profession. A Gold Medalist in LLB from Punjab University and has a LLM degree from University of Warwick, UK. He is also a former Member Provincial Assembly of Punjab (2008-2013). He tweets @ZafarSahi (twitter.com/ZafarSahi)

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