The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) seems to be losing its grip and popular support in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) due to lack of leadership and unity.
Though the PTI is relatively popular in K-P, no provincial or district leadership exists since PTI Chief Imran Khan dissolved party cabinets to hold intra-party elections.
The strategy of internalising democracy in the party may be failing because the PTI has been unable to hold elections for the past 18 months. Sources familiar with the matter say this is the result of lack of coordination between the central and provincial leadership, constant interference of the Central Executive Committee (CEC) in provincial affairs and the differences over the assignment of important portfolios.
Party leaders contesting for different portfolios remain optimistic about PTI’s popularity despite internal rifts and challenges. The scuffles have resulted in the postponement of elections in three districts.
PTI’s provincial convener Dr Meher Taj Roghani expressed concern over prolonged delay in holding party elections. “The election commission needs to hurry up,” he said, so that a better election strategy could be prepared.
The uncertainty over rewarding party tickets to candidates hoping to contest the general elections is also not helping. In the past six months, local heavyweights, including Iftikhar Jhagra and Khwaja Muhammad Khan Hoti have left the party due to this. Both candidates have previously served as provincial ministers in the past.
While PTI has partially held provincial intra-party elections, the provincial cabinet is yet to be announced. The chairman of the political science department at the University of Peshawar, A Z Hilali thinks that it is still too soon to predict the decline in PTI’s popularity.
“We have an immature political culture in Pakistan. Things change very rapidly here when it comes to the popularity of political parties,” he said, labelling PTI as an “Imran-centric party”.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 3rd, 2013.