Conviction

Published: May 10, 2013
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fasi.zaka@tribune.com.pk

fasi.zaka@tribune.com.pk

This election day, I will have travelled to Peshawar to cast my vote for Imran Khan and the PTI. At the same time, I must admit I will be happy at the possibility of the PML-N forming a government if it wins, largely because what this country needs now, more than anything, is improved governance, because over the past few years, it has gone from decrepit to decaying through neglect, creating nightmare scenarios one couldn’t entertain in the past.

I have penned articles heavily critical of Imran Khan previously, and troublingly for me, most of my objections haven’t changed despite my decision to vote for him now. His stance on the Taliban is woefully misguided and naïve, even dangerous, because consensus against the extremists cannot solidify until the sympathisers cave in.

But the mathematics of arguments such as this has changed significantly, especially post the APC on terrorism. The ruling parties who believe the “right” things regarding this violent perversion of violence have been so ineffectual, muddled, corrupt and meandering that outfits like the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Taliban have flourished. The binary being bandied about between corruption and terrorism doesn’t hold if the corruption being spoken of is so pervasive, that when coupled with weak leadership, it creates comfortable conditions for this murderous lot.

The truth is, I would have liked nothing better than to vote for the PPP again in this election. The presence of this party is vital to Pakistan, being one of the few parties that is truly national in nature. Even though it doesn’t want to, it’s in its best interests to sit a next term in government out. It is essential for it to reorganise and reflect on its term in government, and give Bilawal a more prominent role in the party, one of the only ways in which to change the old school approach of Asif Ali Zardari in the party.

But back to the PTI, I did come to admire Imran on two fronts recently, the first of which was to hold elections within the party. As most observers will tell you, it wasn’t a good move. It divided his party close to the elections. But still on principle, kudos to him for going ahead with it; it’s essential to democracy. The second was his statements post the ongoing slaughter of Shias in the country.

I don’t think Imran will get the landslide he wants. But it’s important for the PTI to win seats in parliament because the energised non-voters need to remain invested in the system. Plus, he will be able to exert influence on the government for some of the better ideas he has, such as the reformation of the development funds given to parliamentarians.

An ideal scenario would be for the PML-N and the PTI to form a coalition. Right now, that seems unlikely, but this is where they can learn a trick or two from Zardari. However dismal the PPP’s performance, credit to it for keeping it together through five tumultuous years. Who knows, maybe a marriage between the PTI and the PML-N eventually takes hold; Imran has demonstrated a previously unknown gift for accommodation with the MQM and Sheikh Rasheed recently.

While the PTI’s influence in the electoral scene will really be known in a few days, where it has been disproportionately influential is bandying the anti-West, and indirectly, the pro-Taliban narrative in the country, forcing others not to take a clear position in the opposite direction. We are seeing its effects now in the manner in which the canvassing of the PPP, the MQM and the ANP have been targeted. Sadly, the PTI has taken advantage of the situation rather than condemn it.

Our existentialist dilemma on whether or not to take action against the Taliban can only really coagulate into decisive action if Imran changes his romanticised view of the TTP. We may just have to tolerate the “doves” and go for negotiations. Hopefully that will end the fantasy and bring all the parties together to the conclusion that religious nihilists don’t want anything except utter destruction.

Where Imran Khan does deserve credit has been his tireless campaigning, and it was in the immediate aftermath of his fall and speech from his sickbed that one truly realised the conviction of his efforts. We need conviction now, not just from him but from every other political party as well. Hopefully this election will turn the tide against the entities that truly have demonstrated conviction — the militants.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • Nasir
    May 10, 2013 - 11:16PM

    sir as long as u r voting for Bhala, Nothing else matters…..

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  • Mishi
    May 10, 2013 - 11:43PM

    SIR dont be diplomatic please …If you are Voting BALA .. then dont be so happy in winning PML N.. ;) if you r happy in winning PML N then do vote for them as well ;)

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  • amir
    May 10, 2013 - 11:48PM

    wonderful articl,,i love it most becuz ur vote goes to right party!!!

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  • Ali omer.
    May 11, 2013 - 12:06AM

    Bad is better than worst my friend…. what u think…

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  • Sry
    May 11, 2013 - 12:08AM

    A complex situation must be analyzed accordingly; to boil it down to a binary does not yield fruitful understanding, the rhetoric of “corrupt v. murderous” being served around only dumbs down the discourse.
    “Leftists” who usually call the right-wing obscurantist have gotten mighty close to that label themselves !
    I know among liberals this is known as the “middle class neurosis”, but we cannot afford another five years of PPP. The inaction and incompetence of secular(ish) parties only weakens the state and provides more space to extremists. Plus the economy needs improvement, which it seems is never on ppp’s agenda.

    You’ve come back with a great article Fasi bhai – hope you’ll write more often.

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  • asim
    May 11, 2013 - 12:21AM

    How come you have a softcorner for PML-N?
    Dont you people know that PML-N and sharif brothers are the party that does seat adjustment with sipah-e-sahaba (now with a different name).
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  • Mirza
    May 11, 2013 - 12:34AM

    “I will have travelled to Peshawar to cast my vote for Imran Khan and the PTI. At the same time, I must admit I will be happy at the possibility of the PML-N forming a government”
    This is a real conviction and the TTP would love you for that. They are also supporting these two candidates in the elections. It is more of a conviction on your part after you admit that PTI is benefitting from the terrorist acts of TTP against the liberal parties. Kudos to you and your foresight. Remember the election results are not announced yet!

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  • ayaz
    May 11, 2013 - 12:43AM

    I guarantee that all who criticize Imran Khan will eventually vote for him tomorrow. Keep calm and vote Imran Khan.

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  • Atif Salahuddin
    May 11, 2013 - 1:32AM

    The article is entitled ‘Conviction’ yet the man can’t make up his mind which party he truly supports albeit him casting a vote for PTI, sums up his entire article!

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  • Bilal
    May 11, 2013 - 2:09AM

    Fasi, I’ve always felt that your articles typically eke of obsession with TTP, even if the time and topic don’t demand it. As a matter of fact Imran has never endorsed, officially or otherwise the ideology of the TTP. He simply advocates making peace with ourselves and sorting the problems that have persisted despite the more than decade of military action. Don’t know how you make up your mind about voting for PTI while wronglyclaiming that Imran ascribes to TTP views. I think your heart wants to vote for PTI, but your mind isn’t willing to accept that Imran stands for peace and not extremist views (even though they don’t match your perspective on things). No matter what, when you vote today just don’t be confused. Be convinced yourself first.

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  • Amjad
    May 11, 2013 - 2:11AM

    You are forgetting that PPP signed peace deal with sufi Muhammad and most of his so called requirements were met unopposed. He still violated the agreement and exposed himself 101% and hence the whole nations agreed to wipe him off the face of earth. Thats how Swat was liberated and it was the ONLY way to do what had to be done. Otherwise, it would have been another Lal masjid.
    Moreover, why does it matter what the Khan says? You know very well who makes policies. You heard them thinking aloud just a few days ago.

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  • observer
    May 11, 2013 - 3:19PM

    @Bilal:

    Don’t know how you make up your mind about voting for PTI while wronglyclaiming that Imran ascribes to TTP views.

    OK, Let me rightly claim that it is the TTP that subscribes to PTI’s views and is working extra hard to ensure PTI victory.

    The idea, Sir jee, is still wrong.

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  • zaif
    May 12, 2013 - 3:26AM

    @Mishi:
    you don’t have a courage for doing some fury disruptions

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  • Sam
    May 12, 2013 - 10:39PM

    Im a little annoyed at how condescending this article is. Im also shocked that someone who ive always thought to be opinionated and not afraid to speak his mind is playing the “diplomatic” card, being careful to equally shower praise on all the running parties. Please don’t write articles just for the sake of writing them and filling a webpage with your name on it.

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  • Salman
    May 14, 2013 - 4:54PM

    “While the PTI’s influence in the electoral scene will really be known in a few days, where it has been disproportionately influential is bandying the anti-West, and indirectly, the pro-Taliban narrative in the country, forcing others not to take a clear position in the opposite direction.”

    By now i would hope that a mature writer would not refrain from assuming anti west sentiment to pro Taliban sentiment. PTI or no PTI it is essential for Pakistanis to understand the series of drone attacks and series of suicide bombs means EACH and EVERY leader should be anti west and anti taliban.

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