For Shah Mehmood Qureshi, it's about logic, not emotion
Shah Mahmood Qureshi's move to the PTI isn't about the party's noble agenda; it is about political survival.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi finally decided which party to join. He held a large rally, and in true political style announced that he was joining PTI. While Qureshi was making this announcement, I could imagine Marvi Memon smiling to herself, thinking she is likely to take a similar route.
Now, here is the thing; firstly anyone who thought this was not going to happen was kidding themselves, and secondly what Qureshi has done and what Marvi Memon and many other are going to do is the smart thing to do -- joining a party that is still being built is smarter than going to a party which is well established.
The logic for Qureshi is actually very simple.
The decision is about political survival and growth for the former foreign minister. Even though he mentioned how much he admires the PTI, his final decision has nothing to do with their agenda. For people like Qureshi, this was the logical thing to do.
Let me explain.
Imagine that you are in Qureshi's position. You are a career politician, and you have a certain stature in society as you are a Gadee Nasheen. This means you have thousands of followers spread across your area of origin. On top of this, you are actually educated and you have been a minister. Having left a large political party, you have the obvious option of joining another large political party, but if you do that, you are no longer the big fish; you will be just another senior leader within the party ranks.
Now, given that you have serious political ambitions, having already served as the foreign minister, you would like to remain a big fish albeit in a small pond. And that is where the PTI comes in; it’s a small pond which is gaining support, but it is still small. Having only one genuine leader, it badly needs people who have guaranteed seats and can actually conduct constituency politics. Joining such an outfit guarantees at least the number two status within the party ranks. Now this sounds pretty good for a career politician. But wait, there is more.
Given that the recent movement for new provinces is finally gaining some momentum, hailing from South Punjab just became an asset for Qureshi. Not only is he number two in a fast growing political party, but also a key figure from South Punjab. So eventually, when the province is formed, Qureshi gets dibs without questions. And being the big fish in the PTI, Qureshi has a serious shot at becoming Chief Minister or at least becoming a close ally to the Chief Minister of the newly made province. Qureshi gets to do this as there is no way Imran Khan will take up the Chief Minister job himself. And being younger than the kaptaan, Qureshi also get dibs on Party Chairmanship whenever it becomes open. So a few years down the line, he may get to run the party.
So how is this not the single most amazing career opportunity out there? How can anyone refuse such glittering prospects? You cannot, just like Shah Mehmood Qureshi did not.
The fact of the matter is that ever since Musharraf left, there are a large number of career politicians stuck in purgatory. Most of these politicians are former nazims and naib nazims, who just do not fit in to the current system of government. This whole underclass cannot join the PPP, PML-Q or PML-N, either because they do not want to take them onboard or they have issues with those already in these parties. So they have been stuck, waiting for someone to come free them.
Imran Khan did exactly that.
He needed to build a party so he opened the door to those in limbo. But still, even with droves of nazims joining him, there was no genuine leader apart from him to run his party. However, now he has Qureshi, and in a few days other national level politicians will start leaving purgatory to find a new home. Marvi Memon, Danial Aziz, Jehangir Tareen and others will flock to a party that badly needs senior leadership.
Just to reiterate, this isn't about the party's noble agenda; it is all to do with political survival.
So, before you begin to criticize Qureshi's decision, please remember that you would have done the same thing as him, simply because it was the logical thing to do.