Imran Khan’s PTI: New face, same old lines

Published: January 13, 2012
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Imran Khan talks about a better Pakistan, but so did the Bhutto's and the Sharif's. PHOTO: AFP

Has Imran Khan’s party started to crumble already? The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Nazriati (ideological) is a recently formed faction consisting of those who stood by Khan when he started his mission to clean Pakistan’s politics. Khan took pride in them because they were honest, educated, and hard-working people who had vowed to help him bring about a revolution in the country.

Recently, however, his right and left have been hijacked by the Makhdoom’s and the like. Honesty, education, and hard work are not traits that will win ballots today. This is not very different from the history of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The PPP also started with various ideological minds and visionaries, but later decided to settle for feudal lords. Will the result be any different for PTI?

I have always wanted new entities to emerge in the political landscape of Pakistan. However, now that one finally has, I am not too excited. The need of the hour was an ideological wave, and not an addition to the collection of marionettes with brownish-yellow strings. I do not doubt Imran Khan’s intentions at all; it is just his methodology that troubles me. I can understand why he is collecting opportunists, selectively criticising, and dictating his democratic party at this point in time. But all this is a simple repetition of history. It has been tried and tested, but not learned from.

The invisible hands are at play, manipulating the nascent democracy yet again; Khan may not be directly taking funds from the establishment, but he is certainly enjoying their latent support. This has significantly filtered his fiery speeches and sharp criticism.

In the past year alone, the number of people attending the Kaptaan’s rallies have risen from 5,000 people to hundreds of thousands. That is, however, not the only thing that has changed. A soft tone for the establishment and political parties affiliated with the establishment is crystal clear too. For instance, till last year Khan’s speeches were incomplete without MQM bashing. This is, most definitely, no longer the case.

The so-called ‘change’, as defined by PTI is not new to Pakistanis. Of course, it is a new version, so it comes in fancy packaging and better branding. This is exactly the ‘hope’ people felt when the Bhutto’s and Sharif’s made their initial appearances. In fact, when the PPP was born, the hype was many folds beyond what PTI has generated. The only difference is, we fail to register the jubilation and celebrations that took over the masses a few decades ago because Pakistan, collectively, suffers from poor memory. The ‘hope’ is back, with new actors and props but the same masters. What we fail to realise is that the actors and props were never the problem.

Putting the pieces together, if things continue as they are, Imran Khan will be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. When he does come to power, the situation will not miraculously change. When the electricity, gas, and water supplies continue to remain short for months, how will the people respond? How many months will Khan be able to blame the previous governments for wrecking the system until his followers start to question him? The international oil prices may continue to rise along with the inflation rate. If Khan decides to stick to his rhetoric, he will quickly develop differences with the seniors of the security and bureaucratic establishment.

Will he continue to show flexibility or put his foot down?

The ultimate question is whether the people and the establishment will continue to respect Khan after he is elected. Will the PTI supporters continue to stand by his side even for a year? I hope that they will, but I have serious doubts about this considering Pakistan’s history. His irrational following will turn against him before he is able to take full charge. Hence, PTI is destined to the same fate as its predecessors. A major reason why the present government has not performed is the constant threat of being toppled. The throne has always been the focal point of any government in Pakistan. When the same sword hangs over Khan’s neck, he will have a choice to make – a choice which will, no doubt, not help Pakistan.

And when PTI does come to power, the PPP and PML will be ready to offer an alternative to the puppet masters. The people would have forgotten all the damage and corruption done by the two parties within a year, if not months.

As ironic as it is, politicians seem smarter, so long as they stay in the opposition.

samir.butt

Samir Butt

A former Youth Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Fulbright undergraduate scholar, freelance writer, public speaking trainer, IT consultant and marketing professional. He blogs at samiranwar.net.

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