Imran Khan's nemesis: The Parliamentary system

If only the head of state was a direct elect of the people, Khan would be looking in good shape to win the election.

Aun Ansari November 04, 2011
Those previously in doubt of Imran Khan’s growing popularity must have either slept through the whole of Sunday, or exiled themselves in to a state of oblivion to be still holding on to their flawed perceptions. To say that PTI’s October 30 rally was a success is probably an understatement.

The sea of people in attendance (near 100,000 according to estimates) in the main heartland of Punjab was not just a slap on arch rival PML-N’s face and evidence of support for PTI, but it also symbolized the growing aspiration for change amongst the population. The slogan Imran the only hope for Pakistan’ probably captured the sentiments best.


PML-N leader Pervez Rashid, in his response to the rally, was quick to conclude that all recent public gatherings are reflective of people’s desire for change, but what he fails to take in to account is who they consider to be the agent of it. To compliment the success of political rallies, numerous research results have also declared Imran to be head and shoulders above the rest of his political rivals in terms of popularity. Yet despite these constant reinforcements the scepticism still remains; can the support translate in to votes?

Many political pundits would do well in not risking their credibility by answering this question, though the question in itself has considerable merit. From the looks of it the biggest bane that stands out for Imran is the prevalent Parliamentary System in itself. Had Pakistan been following a Presidential form of government whereby the head of state is a direct elect of the people, PTIs rally could very well have been just another stamp on the growing authority of Imran, and the certainty of him being the strongest contender to take the helm of affairs come next election.

However, unlike the Presidential form of government, in the Parliamentary System it is rarely ever enough to be a popular leader with mass appealing ideals to secure a position as the country’s Premier. The onus of electing the Prime Minister lies with the members of the National Assembly, who in turn are themselves elected by a popular vote from different constituencies in the country. Hence, one man’s ideals and leadership need to be transformed into that of a group strong enough to project the same at the grass root electoral level. Quite literally put, Imran Khan will need to put together a squad strong enough and big enough to capture a majority of the 272 directly elected seats in the NA to translate his support to votes.

The conundrum for Imran though lies in that most of the established names in Pakistani politics are tried and tested representatives who have failed their public. More worrisome is the fact that those amongst them who pass his selection criteria are even far and few. Hence we might be left with PTI’s most viable, and possibly only option; put up candidates - albeit free of corruption, as unknown commodities, and hope that come election day, the voters can turn a blind eye to the names and stamp the ‘chiragh’  (lamp) in support of who they consider their actual leader i.e. Imran Khan.
Aun Ansari Aun at present is a Fulbright scholar pursuing a Master's degree in Communication Management at Emerson College, Boston USA. He completed his graduation from LUMS, Lahore in 2009 on the Dean's List.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Moshfit | 12 years ago | Reply @Zoaib: Zoaib one Question. When is Tehrik e Insaaf holding elections within the party?
Ayesha Ijaz Khan | 12 years ago | Reply @ Zoaib---Like almost all PTI supporters I have spoken to, your only evidence/point of reference is based on what Imran says or writes. Obviously, he is going to write and say stuff that makes him look good and conciliatory. I am sorry but that is not how I judge politicians---I judge them based on the amount of difference between what they say and their actions, their voting record, what others say about them as well as circumstantial evidence. And regarding his dishonesty, I think he is no more honest than any other politician in Pakistan. I can give you several examples of things he has lied about when they don't make him look good. Here are a few examples: 1) He continually says that Nawaz Sharif agreed to a boycott in the APDM and then went into the election behind the others' back. This is not true and Imran is lying simply because he made the wrong decision. Nawaz Sharif decided to boycott but when he found out that PPP is going ahead, he decided to go ahead and also tried to convince the other parties of the APDM, but some like Imran and Achakzai did not get convinced. 2) He never tells the truth about why his case against Altaf Hussain is not progressing in London. It is not progressing because the lawyer that he has given the case to is not being paid and thus he is taking it easy (that is how most lawyers take pro bono cases). The big difference why he won his ball tampering case so quickly was because his father in law got him a good and expensive lawyer. By not spending money on a lawyer, you can in all likelihood ,expect not to win a big case like this one. But Imran makes all kinds of stories when asked about it but never brings up this point that he is not paying his lawyer. 3) He said in his speech that 16,000 died of suicides in Pakistan when in reality the number is 1600. 4) He campaigned for his brother in law in London by telling Muslim communities that he will be a pro-Muslim candidate. Imran also claims to be anti-war on terror. But the Conservative party that his brother in law is a part of has taken very strict action on immigration which has hurt many Muslims badly. The Conservative party is also the most pro-war on terror of all British political parties. So these were blatant lies when campaigning for his brother in law. 5) When it comes to his personal life, there are even more dishonesties. He does not acknowledge his daughter in pakistan but acknowledges her in UK, even posed for a photograph with her for Hello Magazine. Also, I heard him on a Pakistani talk show saying that a British court decided that his children should stay in Britain. This would have only been the case if he had decided to contest for custody, which he never did. So it was not a British court that decided this but Jemima and he decided this on their own. Generally, when such matters are contested in a British Court the father often gets custody of the sons and the mother of daughters. But Imran decided that his children should stay in Britain. In fact, I often find him lying about things that those in Pakistan would not know about as he probably feels he can fool them. I could go on but basically, as I said, Imran is no more honest than any other politician and I don't think you should believe everything he says or claims. You should cross-question it for motive just like you should for any other politician.
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