Nearly a year after it first surfaced, the “35 punctures” story has been revealed to be — nothing. Why the PTI wasted the public’s time over a claim which cannot be substantiated in a court of law is rather difficult to fathom. Over the past year and throughout the party’s months-long dharna against the government, the PTI had accused former caretaker chief minister of Punjab Najam Sethi of playing a role in rigging the 2013 elections. The PTI had also promised multiple times that it would provide evidence to support these allegations, but after a year, in a television show recently, Imran Khan backtracked on this promise by stating that the “35 punctures” story was merely a political remark.
PTI MNA Arif Alvi has issued an apology regarding the use of this claim, and rightly so. Mr Alvi said “it’s time to apologise” for the allegations based on “rumours”. Issuing an apology is the ethical and mature thing to do. But other senior party members seem to have taken an opposite stance and have said the apology is in contrast to party policy. Senior member Jehangir Tareen said the party has, in fact, not backed from its stance. In all this, it still remains unclear what exactly the party stance is, with three different and conflicting statements issued from the party’s senior members. The use of political rhetoric in an irresponsible manner and making unsubstantiated allegations do not in any way behoove a party of national stature, which is regarded as a change agent and is set to play an important role in shaping the country’s future. It also hurts the other claims of rigging in the 2013 elections that the PTI has made, which might very well have some substance. This only goes to show the futility of making baseless allegations as they do nothing but hurt the credibility of those making them. One hopes the PTI learns a lesson from this episode and behaves in a more responsible manner in the future. It would do well to own Mr Alvi’s apology rather than distancing itself from it.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 4th, 2015.
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