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.
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.