PTI’s emergence as a political force has to be credited for creating ripples across Pakistan.

A day before the elections, I joined the PTI crowd gathered in front of the parliament to sing to the tunes to Jazba-e-Junoon. It was an appropriate song. There was junoon everywhere. We have always been a highly political nation, but the interest in the elections this time had a totally different vibe. Imran Khan’s success for sure. From the tea boy in office to scores of overseas Pakistanis, people were not just speculating about the elections, they were actually discussing manifestos and thinking about their choices. There was an undeniable feeling of hope, of optimism in air.

However, as the election results roll in, the jubilation is gone. The driving passion during the election campaign, the ‘youth’ that PTI mobilized, seems to be completely dejected. On my FB timeline right now are dozens of messages with people spewing venom against those who voted for N, the party poised to form the next government.

I do not understand their disappointment.

PTI, as of now, has emerged as the second most popular party in the National Assembly and the most popular party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. As a party that accumulates a very limited political experience and has been driven largely by Imran Khan’s own charisma, this result is far from bad. Yes, Imran Khan was running for Prime Minister and his fans did expect miracles from him, but would it really have been beneficial for a party like PTI to have that kind of power during its very first stint in the parliament?

Both PTI and its followers have to be commended for the amount of sincerity and passion they have brought into the political arena. Imran Khan has proven himself as a leader who inspires both young and old, rich and poor alike. He has proved to be the one leader who has managed to mobilize the nation so much, that we have seen the best turnout in our history. He has also emerged as a leader who gives hope, who breathes a new life into a nation that has been departing for long.

PTI’s emergence as a political force has to be credited for creating ripples across Pakistan. The previously all powerful PML-N and PPP have sure  been forced to rethink their political gimmicks and have been rejected as demi Gods.

But, at the same time, both PTI and its followers have much to learn about politics, diplomacy and tolerance. There is a definite lack of maturity within the party.

Khan’s sincerity and his dedication is not in question. But the same cannot be said about his decision making process. In an interview given to Dawn TV, Khan said that he ‘did not vote in favor of anti women harassment bill, cause the bill was meant to make Washington happy’. By that argument, if hypothetically ending the power crisis, or imposing VAT makes Washington happy, PTI would opt not to do these things either. Simply out, IK’s anti-American stance seems to be keeping him from making sane decisions. Same goes for his stance on Drone policy.

PTI and its fan base have repeatedly made the mistake of comparing philanthropy with devising public policies. They are of course not to be blamed for it. Both Shaukat Khanam and rebuilding Pakistan seem to be equally impossible goals. But, while Imran Khan as the lead was enough to make Shaukat Khanam a success, he does need a whole team to make PTI work as a national party.

In this context, the PTI has now been optimally placed.

This is also an opportunity to revisit the themes that the party campaigned on. I personally was expecting 30 – 35 seats for PTI, but was forced to rethink my estimation when I saw the crowds that Khan managed to pull. But results have proved my initial estimates right. This brings us to the fact that Khan’s appeal [in places other than KP] is still very urbane. If one respects democracy, they have to face the fact that PML-N whose ideology is most closely aligned with PTI has managed to democratically rile much more support. Where did PTI lack? In history yes, but also in its approach towards issues that concern the majority of people. Anti-Americanism sells, but let’s leave the religious parties to pull that.

If PTI manages to hold its lead over the PPP, Imran Khan is poised to become the leader of the opposition in the National Assembly. In this position, PTI has managed to bag an all important position in the assembly, where the party’s elected members can gain invaluable political experience without facing the pressure to deliver. The parry also needs to make its followers understand that the game of politics is filled with grey areas and tackling national crises like terrorism is not simply a matter of shooting down drones and economic crises cannot be solved by drastically cutting down aid. Leading a province like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa would again be a lesson in understanding grey areas.

So, if PTI manages to resist the temptation to campaign for midterm elections, and manages to find solutions in KP, it will emerge as a real political force, that doesn’t only have a real track record but also has the political maturity to appreciate the millions of grey areas in national policy matters.

So, PTI fans on my TL, cheer up.

It is hopefully only the beginning for PTI and a great beginning at that.

sadaf

PTI Jalsas – Passion personified.

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