Or, why the media’s accounts of party’s divisiveness are not accurate
For the last nineteen years, PTI’s Chairman Imran Khan traversed length and breadth of Pakistan telling younger generation that they should not act like sheep to accept wrong decisions; corruption and lawlessness in the country. This younger crowd grew up working with Imran Khan collecting funds for Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital and Namal University. When Imran Khan entered politics these children of 1990s idolised him and expected that he would be different from other politicians. Around 2008 these children of 1990s came of age and became voters, excited to change the country through winning a general election. That passion gave lift to the wave of PTI.
These young men and their middle class mentors delivered first signal of what was about to come in October 2011 by hosting a historic jalsa in Lahore and then repeated the same in December 2011 in Karachi. Most of these PTI supporters had never participated in electoral politics and had no experience how elections were contested and organised. Unfortunately, until then PTI had not made any efforts to impart them training to prepare them – which was a mistake. The solution they found to overcome this difficulty was to allow status quo politicians to join the party, but the mistake they made was to give them top party positions as soon as they joined. This was unacceptable to party grass roots members – they, who had been told not to act like sheep and to question all decisions.
Voices of dissent started rising as new entrants began being placed in key decision making positions. Although people were angry, they still believed Chairman Imran Khan would stick to his ideological pronouncements. The pressure kept building and Imran Khan had to announce an intra-party election in 2012. Status quo that included both electable and friends of Imran Khan did their utmost to retain control of the party through intra-party election irregularities. But they were allowed to function and prepare for 2013 general elections which was first test of PTI’s political power. Tickets were awarded in violation of merit which further alienated party members at the grass roots and Imran Khan had to make an appeal from his hospital bed to vote for them despite their reservations. Since then the gulf has been widening between Imran Khan and his long time supporters because of wrong political decisions and reliance on status quo politicians.
The wedge between Imran Khan and his democratic followers emerged soon after October 2011 jalsa when electables were accepted without due diligence but they always had a sense of hope that he will return to his principles. This hope was finally put to rest on July 20th 2016 when Imran Khan in a PTI members meeting in Islamabad announced that anyone that disagrees with him can leave the party or form their own party. This undemocratic statement was a departure from the 19 years of his speeches in which party members were told never to become sheep and not to accept decisions that are in violation of constitution. It was a shocking statement and produced a storm on the social media. Not only that voters on July 21st AJK elections sent a clear message to Imran Khan that his status quo politics is unacceptable and it was a wakeup call for him. I joined PTI in September 2010 after a 45 minutes private meeting with Imran Khan at PTI secretariat in Islamabad. I joined PTI because of its democratic spirit and was never understood by Imran Khan. It is that democratic spirit that is its biggest strength.
Media in Pakistan has never experienced real democracy in political parties so they label melting pot of PTI as infighting or divisions. It is not true. I see a lot of similarity between PTI and Tory/Labor Parties of UK and Republican/Democratic Parties of USA. In Tory party Boris Johnson disagreed with David Cameron on Brexit and campaigned for it. In USA Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton engaged in a fierce fight to represent the Democratic Party. Senator Ted Cruz of the Republican Party refused to endorse Donald Trump as nominee for Presidential elections in his convention speech. If they were in Pakistan our media would call it divisions. We need to understand that democracy is not monolithic but rather pluralistic and diverse. A good democracy thrives on debate and discussion to choose a policy direction and PTI is the only truly democratic party in Pakistan in this sense. Intra-party elections alone are not needed for being democratic. Internal discussions and debate are also important which only exist in PTI.
I would never survive a day in undemocratic Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML N) because I would refuse to accept Asif Zardari as co-Chairman when he waved a questionable will of Benazir to claim that title. I would also refuse to accept Maryam Nawaz as the heir of Nawaz Sharif just because she was born in his home. Both Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif rule these parties as autocracies and do not ever refer to their party constitutions to make any decisions. They are not interested in the sons and daughters of the nation or in allowing them an opportunity. Ahsan Iqbal, Ch Nisar, Pervez Rasheed, Khawaja Asif, Khurshid Shah, Aitzaz Ahsan and Raza Rabbani are not real democrats. Their only democratic credentials are continuation of parliament where they are members which, in a way, results in a gainful employment for them. None of them have ever raised their voice to question decisions of their party heads regardless of its irrationality or demanded that decisions are taken based on party constitutions. When Khurshid Shah says “democracy khappay” he is talking about his personal position in parliament because he has never said “democracy khappay” in his party.
We have disagreed with Chairman Imran Khan (first privately and then publicly) on a lot of his decisions. We have made him repeatedly angry because of our unflinching activism about certain principles. But he has allowed us to stay in the party despite evidence that many around him suggested to him to expel us. It is our activism that forced him to announce 13 points reform package in KP. I hope that he will accept offer for dialogue and consensus building to prepare PTI for 2018 general elections. Jahangir Tareen and Shah Mehmood Qureshi failed to deliver and they cannot deliver because people of Pakistan expect new kind of politics from Imran Khan. He will succeed when he listens to these voices and will fail if he does not. Nation is ready for change but we have to see if Imran Khan is ready or not.
All are same. Whether it’s a new political party or old. If they were loyal to their country. Today Pakistan would have been a better place.
You can fool some once but not all- all the times. PML(N) has purchased the votes for a long time and so has the party with 'corruption tag' PPP or PPPP. This is why they make money first through whatever means which they need to purchase voters – even Independant successful candidates. It will not be right to compare our political parties with those of UK or USA but PTI has a distinction to be different than the other two musical-chair players.
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