PTI’s new politicking in Punjab


The only criteria in general elections is electability

Apparently, Imran Khan’s new strategy of reaching out to electable candidates in Punjab is paying dividends as a number of lawmakers from major political parties are increasingly flocking towards the Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI).  After the loss of recent by-elections, which to a greater extent, clarified to Khan that unless he changed his policy of ‘good politics rhetoric’ via social media, which cannot win the party electable candidates who can actually secure a seat for the party, the next elections won’t be any different for his political organization. Hence, Khan has adopted the same policy which the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the ruling party have followed for years: ticketing process should be valued on the basis of a candidate’s ability to win elections rather than the latter’s ideological stance and loyalty towards the party.

On the other hand, it’s the same policy which has always been relied upon to ensure the survival of political parties in Pakistan. In Pakistan, all major political parties are either able to win an election or remain politically relevant after accommodating political heavyweights that sit on guaranteed seats irrespective of their ideological standings. One of the major examples in this regard is Bhutto’s PPP: after winning the first election, Bhutto became aware of the politics of survival which demanded that he look beyond his ideological electorate to stay in power. On their part, opportunist political personalities prefer to remain with parties that are likely to win an election rather than the ones whose political future remains uncertain.

In Southern Punjab, Khan has also started talking about the need of a new province to address grievances of an area which remains underdeveloped in comparison to the ruling party’s focus on other regions of the province

Apparently, the process of changing political loyalties has already begun and is likely to expedite in the coming weeks. A week ago, a number of lawmakers defected from the ruling party and decided to contest the next general election in opposition to the former’s candidates in Punjab. It’s likely that a majority of these defectors, with almost guaranteed seats in the National Assembly (NA), have already been approached by Khan’s advisors. Another recent defection which surprised various political pundits has happened in the form of Nadeem Afzal Chan, a long time ally of the PPP. The defection of Chan, who has been known as one of the senior members of the PPP to PTI indicates that Khan’s party is gaining the necessary momentum in terms of securing political heavyweights in Punjab which is the only way the party stands any chance at winning in the province.

In Southern Punjab, Khan has also started talking about the need of a new province to address grievances of an area which remains underdeveloped in comparison to the ruling party’s focus on other regions of the province. By and large, South Punjab is the only major region in Punjab where the ruling party appears vulnerable politically: PPP already has some support in the region as it is known to have given lip service to the idea of a new province to win over the region’s electorate. Now Khan’s political party has entered into the mix. PTI is likely to secure much of the region’s electable support for it has not only given life to the idea of new province, the key demand of the region’s people, but has also emerged as a viable alternative to the ruling party in the province which holds promise in terms of winning the next general election.

As the next general election draws closer, Khan should see the benefits of accommodating political heavyweights to his party to ensure that he has enough electable in his ranks to win enough seats to challenge the ruling party when the next government is formed. The argument that Khan’s entire struggle was meant to reform Pakistan’s domestic political environment and eliminate the politics of opportunism, doesn’t offer enough political mileage in a country whose entire political structure rests on patronage, ethnicity and tribal links. Under the current circumstances, for Khan, talking about uprooting the existing system and refusing the support of political electables would mean staying in the opposition. While questions can be asked about Khan’s approach of accommodating people whose influence and hold over Pakistan’s political structure he vowed until recently, PTI stands no chance at challenging the ruling party unless it plays by the same rules of dirty politicking.

Pakistan’s domestic political environment is in a flux for the last few years. This brewing uncertainty has actually helped PTI in winning over electable candidates across the country, particularly in the province of Punjab. The apparent isolation of the ruling party and that too so close to the next general election means electable candidates in Punjab are under immense pressure to decide which political party’s ticket they are going to play with for the next general election. It’s likely that impending defections may end up helping PTI win considerable seats in Punjab which a few months ago, appeared unlikely.

Without a doubt, PTI is in the game again in Punjab!



  1. A simple solution to same old heavyweight corrupt electables being perpetually elected is to disqualify them all on the basis of Article 62 and 63 and hold elections with fresh faces who are rated for honesty and integrity by the election commission of Pakistan. Simple.

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