The PTI’s wise decision

Published: January 22, 2013
Email
The writer is a resident of Karachi and is involved in undertaking social welfare projects

The writer is a resident of Karachi and is involved in undertaking social welfare projects

Ever since plans for the Long March were announced, there was speculation whether the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would join the march or not, and much discussion regarding what it should do ensued. Ever since the march ended in an agreement with the government, many commentators have browbeaten the PTI for its folly of missing the mother of all golden opportunities. The problems in our political system that Dr Tahirul Qadri outlined and the plight of the people that he painted all rang true. The march proved that Pakistanis are capable of peaceful and focused protest. The way the march ended through negotiations with the government producing an agreement, was surely the best possible conclusion. Questions raised about Dr Qadri’s alleged links with the establishment and sources of funding may be valid, but they are not central. The compelling idea is the case that he made and the way he managed to make it: through a peaceful protest by ordinary citizens. Despite all this, let me explain why the PTI made the right call by not joining him.

The PTI is a young political party. With elections around the corner, it is naturally focused on planning for them. While the chances for free and fair elections can always be increased by having more robust rules and systems in place, when elections come up, a party must strategise to do the best it can in the political environment that it finds itself in. That is what the PTI is focused on right now.

Is it worth it to try and strengthen the rules for holding free and fair elections? Sure it is, and the Minhajul Quran, as an NGO, and Dr Qadri as a scholar, are the appropriate people to apply pressure on the government to try and achieve this. As a neutral party claiming to be striving towards electoral reform, it is a natural fit for them to do so. So, why should the PTI feel compelled to join them? Should the PTI have joined the march because it turned out to be a big show and joining it would have meant free publicity? Was this a perfect opportunity for the PTI to improve its media ratings and pick up momentum? These are all the wrong reasons for the PTI to have joined the march. To have done so would have been opportunistic and unwise.

The PTI took a very principled stand by not joining the march, which should be appreciated. It did not join the other opposition parties in opposing the march as it has consistently been critical of the performance of these parties. It did not join the government in negotiating with Dr Qadri as it is highly critical of the government and is gunning to compete in an election against it. So, the peculiar turn of events found Imran Khan missing from the container on January 17, but this was one photo opportunity that he was better off missing.

As the events of the march unfolded, suspicion of links with the establishment were very much in the air. Dr Qadri’s unqualified praise of the army, conveniently ignoring the countless times the army has displaced elected governments and violated the Constitution, does raise red flags. Would it have been appropriate for the PTI to ally itself with such a group? When the PTI takes a stance that clearly demonstrates that it has no linkages with the establishment, why is it not appreciated? For sure, had the PTI joined the march, charges of it being backed by the establishment would have resurrected.

Also, as Khan has explained, the possibility of violence was palpable. Would it have been wise for the PTI to have risked its reputation and prospects for election by associating itself with a movement that may have culminated in violence?

By taking a lone principled stand, the PTI has proven that it has matured as a political party. Had it been a part of the march, it may have found itself in the awkward position of being pictured arm-in-arm with leaders of a government that it is highly critical of. It resisted the opportunity for cheap publicity and did the right thing by remaining focused on the upcoming elections.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2013.

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (17)

  • Hassaan
    Jan 22, 2013 - 12:49AM

    Jan Allah ki, Vote IMRAN ka. As simple as that. :)

    Recommend

  • polwala
    Jan 22, 2013 - 1:45AM

    hat ever else, IK is no match for the good doctor when it comes to oratorial skills. It was better to be aloof than be shown to be second best. This skill gives TUQ a long leg up. There is, currently nobody else in Pakistan with the same skills.
    The doctor had an agenda that was actually not too bad when compared with other major parties.The fact that he is using his religious knowledge to his advantage is worrisome.

    Obama won his presidency because of his oratory. Hitler, Mussolini, Khomeni, Reagan, Clinton and many more had that advantage.

    As Marx said,”Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people.”
    The doctor knows it too well and is using it with a vengeance.

    Recommend

  • John the Baptist
    Jan 22, 2013 - 2:16AM

    Well done Imran. They lay a trap for you and you were wise enough to side step it. The right decision is always the one that is most difficult to make. Godspeed, our vote will always be with you.

    Recommend

  • omair shahid
    Jan 22, 2013 - 2:27AM

    excellently put now people should understand that PTI made the right decision by not joining the long march we also must help PTI by voting for him in the election

    Recommend

  • aaaaa
    Jan 22, 2013 - 3:06AM

    “By taking a lone principled stand…”

    I guess i missed the part where every party in the country participated in this long farce.

    Recommend

  • Jan 22, 2013 - 10:36AM

    I wander how people can call it wise and intelligent decision when on the other side IK is saying he can think of joining Tahir Ul Qadri or Minhaj ul Quran in election alliance.

    All i believe is that he got late. He wanted to join but after a bit of time to give a second life and dont be over shadowed by anything else. But in the meantime TUQ finished the march and goes home and IK is left high and dry.

    Had this march continued for couple of more days, IK definitely would have joined it and because he said so in the speech also.

    But unfortunately our blind supporters of all parties do not like to see the truth and do not want to hear it. Our political parties themselves are highly undemocratic.

    Recommend

  • Eyeing Propaganda
    Jan 22, 2013 - 10:47AM

    good one .. vote for PTI

    Recommend

  • omair shahid
    Jan 22, 2013 - 11:37AM

    @Beenish Rana:
    first Tahir ul qadri is not contesting in election till now if he wanted to join the march he would have joined it but he decide not to join the march even after a lot of pressure from PTI supporters and PTI clearly mentioned that they will not join the march in a press conference
    you are just pointing fingers but have not mentioned what undemocratic thing pti has done i know they are not perfect but they are better than the other parties who have destroyed pakistan from top to bottom.

    Recommend

  • Analyzer
    Jan 22, 2013 - 1:14PM

    @Author: By taking a lone principled stand, the PTI has proven that it has matured as a political party.

    Being alone in political wilderness will not help their chances in future elections. PTI missed the boat, and the election results will show that to be true.

    Recommend

  • Ok
    Jan 22, 2013 - 2:12PM

    @Beenish Rana:
    I will be voting for PTI in the elections. I did not want the party to join the march. You can not say PTI made an undemocratic decision because there were many people, like me, who were supportive of most of the things Qadri said BUT were not supportive of PTI joining the march. In the absence of stats, you cant say the decision taken was undemocratic.

    Recommend

  • Rizwan Rauf
    Jan 22, 2013 - 2:18PM

    I beleive It was a two way sword for IK especially has was talking for change but not joining when it was needed. In my view IK took the correct decision, change should come through Ballot only becuase Bullet is actually motive of the west and extremist to gain advantage and to excess and occupy the critical areas. We need to promise ourselves to cast the vote and vote for the right people

    Recommend

  • Jan 22, 2013 - 4:18PM

    I fail to understand that how this differ from PML(N) stand?
    They want the democracy to run and democratically PPP has majority.. so they are letting PPP to continue government..
    Why PTI then make fuss of it.?
    Does all the PTI’s supporter comment showed that they themselves are indulge in noora kushti.. and actually they are the B-Team of the PTI.

    You can read here: If you like to hear and accept logical comments
    http://goo.gl/9xDTz

    Recommend

  • Ahmad Hassan Awan
    Jan 22, 2013 - 4:34PM

    Hollow Excuses.
    I am afraid none of the commentators tried to write about this self contradictory article. Are we devoid of thinking objectively?. Do only passions drive us our thinking patterns.
    The writer is immature and should not be spokeswoman of PTI.
    She wrote in her article that “Ever since plans for the Long March were announced, there was speculation whether the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would join the march or not” . It means PTI had 20 days to decide before 13th of January 2013 but they could not decide till 16th of January. Is it ineptness,slowness of PTI Leadership or else. Then she wrote “The way the march ended through negotiations with the government producing an agreement, was surely the best possible conclusion” and in the last paragraph of her “Article” she naively wrote that “Had it been a part of the march, it may have found itself in the awkward position of being pictured arm-in-arm with leaders of a government that it is highly critical of. What a boomerang.

    Here comes the most self contradictory phrase of her masterpiece “While the chances for free and fair elections can always be increased by having more robust rules and systems in place, when elections come up”. Then Why on earth PTI did not stand by Dr. Tahir Ul Qadri?????Recommend

  • Saad Iqbal
    Jan 22, 2013 - 4:58PM

    Beenish – thing is LHC has given the judgement that either Zardari needs to give up PPP co chairmanship or country’s Presidency. so at least PML-N should voice that. either say that the judgement is unconstitutional or put PPP undersword to follow the court orders.

    And who is saying PPP cant decide the President. go ahead – they have majority – but at least his position should not be disputed or hold a party position. why cant PML-N see that. protecting Zardari instead.

    Btw to get the concepts rights- removing the President does not topple the Government, because President is not part of the Government but a watchdog over the Govt.

    Recommend

  • Mohammad Khan
    Jan 22, 2013 - 5:23PM

    I believe that IK took the right decision on the right time. See politics is not the simple game, first you have to understand what the card party is playing.
    So, Many things IK had to see like why TUQ came back on this time when election voice is being loud and whats the establishment is thinking.

    On the other hand. PLM (N) call for all parties conference not because of Documentary but for his next turn. Where they were when the quetta was burning. why they don’t take the stand against inflation.

    Recommend

  • Something Clever
    Jan 23, 2013 - 4:13AM

    This one time I agree with a move PTI made and I go through the comments only to see what Imran Khan’s fanbois are saying which lead me to want to trash talk PTI instead because any positive comment will make me feel like I’m as mentally deficient and annoying as they are by association. They’ve got talent.
    Continue the “Vote PTI” comments also, you’re winning plenty of support with that redundant spam. Really, you are.

    Recommend

  • Liaqat Yousufzai
    Jan 23, 2013 - 10:19AM

    This decision and that too in a charged environment pushing PTI to join the march, manifests IK’s integrity and his strong leadership qualities. Leaders, not politicians, make big decisions.

    Recommend

More in Opinion