PTI’s test

If PTI wants to survive as a party, not just in K-P, but also nationally, it must put up a good performance in K-P.

Yaqoob Khan Bangash May 20, 2013
The writer is the Chairperson of the History Department at Forman Christian College, Lahore

With the elections over, it is now clear that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) will form the next government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) province. The electoral pattern of people in this frontier region over the past few elections has been rather interesting. In 2002, it elected a Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) coalition of religious parties who were riding the wave of anti-Americanism, while in 2008, it voted the Awami National Party (ANP) in power primarily because it played the Pakhtun nationalist and Bacha Khan card, and now it has put yet another party in power. This change of government shows that the Pakhtuns are, by and large, cognisant of the performance of the party they put in power, and if the party does not deliver, they tend to vote it out of power, regardless of the religious or nationalist rhetoric they might employ over it. This “anti-incumbency” factor is a sign of a healthy democracy being developed in the province. This is in sharp contrast to other provinces, especially for example Sindh, where people keep on voting in governments without major regard to their performance.

This political acumen in the people of K-P puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the incoming PTI-led incoming government. If the PTI wants to survive as a party, not just in K-P, but also nationally, it must put up a good performance in K-P. The whole electorate will be looking at how Imran Khan’s government performs at a provincial level to ascertain if the Naya Pakistan is workable at the national level.

Here, the PTI must also realise we do indeed have an ‘enmity’ with the Taliban. The press comments of the chief minister-designate of K-P, Pervez Khattak, in this regard, are simply the most irresponsible and ill-informed comments on the subject. If he seriously believes that Pakistan, and I mean here both the government and the people, have no real problem with the Taliban, then he is seriously delusional. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as distinct from its cousins in Afghanistan, is against the state of Pakistan and the life the people of Pakistan have adopted through democratic means. The TTP’s aims are not directly related to American presence in Afghanistan or the drone attacks. Ultimately, it wants to dismantle the state system in Pakistan and reconstitute the state and society according to its own wishes. The huge turnout on May 11 is a clear indication by the people of Pakistan that they reject the undemocratic arguments of the TTP. Therefore, no government should be tepid about our opposition to the TTP, its ideology and its supporters. No government should also forget that it is a fallacy to negotiate with terrorists who want to destroy the very basis of our system. Margaret Thatcher, even amidst onslaught on Irish Republican Army attacks in the 1980s, still held that she will never negotiate with people who indulge in terrorist acts. Therefore, if the TTP wants to negotiate, they must first lay down their arms and then come to the negotiating table for a solution within the structure of Pakistan — there can simply be no two ways about it. Talking to the TTP in any other way is simply a grave insult on the martyrdom of several thousands of civilians and soldiers who have valiantly given up their lives in service of the country. We must not besmirch their memory.

Governance is never easy, especially in a country like Pakistan. The PTI has a long way to go before it becomes a “real” party. Now in government, it must realise that it cannot simply call foul if it loses an election, that Pakistan is beyond the upper-middle classes, that problems in the state structure and operation put real obstacles to change and development, and that nothing concrete can simply be done in 90 days. These, and more, are the lessons the PTI has to learn, and I hope it does. Pakistan needs a third political force which is beyond mere rhetoric and lofty ideals, and focused on realistic development and change.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2013.


True Karachiwala | 11 years ago | Reply

@kanwal: Why are you so afraid of education ministry being given to JI ? Will JI radicalized it and make it more conducive for self proclaimed "Jihad" that too in a muslim country ?

The new found love of elite section of society with PTI is going to be over sooner or later over unbridgeable idealogical differences.

Rex Minor | 11 years ago | Reply

@Feroz: I have posted the reply but ET was having the break. Let me try again. I was referring to the Bible belt of the USA which is the main base for the jihadist evangelist christians.

Their code word is "In God we Trust" and God bless you, the esponse to Allah-u-Akbar.

Google the Let me try again, Google for the towns where proibition is in force. I experienced it in the sorrounding are of kentucky where even in the whisky distillery plant it was prohibited.

Rex Minor .

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