New parties from the womb of PTI


Leadership needs to learn from the past


The disintegration of a party starts when the core individuals of its constituency either sit at home or start leaving it. In the last 20 years, Chairman Imran Khan awakened a segment of Pakistani society that was non-political and engaged them in the political process. This segment – which was educated middle and lower middleclass – developed the wave for the party. But once the party was established as a political force Chairman Imran Khan decided to abandon it that segment and rely more on status quo oligarchs of the country in the form of JKT and friends. He has rented the party out to them with the expectation that they will make him the PM. This is a political blunder and will cost the party in next elections.


Yesterday I had a meeting with Hina Manzoor who was elected General Secretary of North Punjab region. Everyone in the region agrees that she had a goodtanzeem sazi expertise and worked hard to develop a structure that delivered votes in 2013 general elections. She herself got 68,473 votes from NA-54 despite being the first time candidate. She was the face of the party as an educated person and a social worker in the area. But then in 2015 she decided to party ways with the party when she felt that Chairman Imran Khan and PTI no longer represent their aims, objectives, and ambitions. She formed a new party called Front National. Most of her tanzeem comprise of ex-PTI who had already left the party or were sitting home. It is yet to be seen whether she will succeed politically or not but it is certain that there will be a dent in PTI vote bank wherever her candidates contest elections in next general elections. It may be a small dent of few thousand votes but those few thousand could be the deciding vote in a close contest like we experienced in NA-122 or some recent by-elections. I wanted Hina to consider rejoining PTI to help us reform it. But she is certain that Front National is a better platform for her and she does not see any hope of PTI getting back to its ideological roots.


Hina is not the only one. Justice Wajihuddin has also formed a new party called Aam Loog Etihad. He has been approaching former PTI colleagues to join him including me. He has attracted some people and may get some more. Unlike Hina, he is not a tanzeemi person so we have to see whether he is able to organise it or not.


Earlier, Adnan Randhawa (another PTI dissident) formed Aam Adami Party which did not go anywhere. Pakistan Freedom Movement headed by Haroon Khawaja is also trying to recruit from PTI. They have resources and educated people but so far have not made much difference.


The point I am trying to make is that we have to learn from the history of PPP. The jiyala of PPP was its asset and as long as they had hoped from the party,PPP won elections. The damage Asif Ali Zardari (AAZ) did was to completely alienate the jiyala while Bilawal is trying to re-inspire them. It is yet to be seen whether Bilawal will succeed or not but by appointing people like Qamar Zaman Kaira and Nadeem Afzal Chan a good message has been sent to the jiyala. JKT and his friends have done to PTI what AAZ did to PPP. JKT has systematically sidelined all die hard members of the party and installed his own loyalists in all key positions. Some paper titles are given to old party members but there is no political power in it as no input is taken from them in decision making. Street protests is a tool used by JKT and friends to ensure party grassroots remains busy and does not demand development of a proper tanzeem. They are afraid that if a tanzeem is built then they will lose control as they have no support in the grassroots. Party activists will not participate in any future street protests as they have expressed no-confidence in the illegitimate central committee gathered around IK.


Chairman Imran Khan, as a national leader, instead of allowing every segment to be represented has decided to put his weight behind JKT and friends. This attitude from the Chairman is one of the main reasons many PTI jiyalas have decided either to sit at home or join other parties. Apart from new parties, PPP will also be poaching from PTI as we have recently seen in Karachi where over 200 activists joined them. The same thing is happening in KP and Punjab.


Party activists at the grassroots level have started taking actions on their own to try to regain control of the party at least at the district level but these are mostly ad-hoc efforts. A nationwide effort is needed to combine all these small groups into a big movement. It is for this purpose I have been traveling around the country. InshaAllah it will happen but it requires some more efforts.


The bottom line is that if the current trend continues there is no way PTI can win a majority in 2018 general elections to form a government and even majority in KP is doubtful. We may win some seats to become a minor partner in a coalition but the majority seems highly unlikely. This is the situation if the election happens in next 90 days but things can change if Chairman Imran Khan starts to listen. Chairman Imran Khan has to make a decision. If he wants to win in 2018 general elections then he has to bring all voices on the table and initiate a dialogue. If he refuses to do that then he should be prepared for another loss.


I still believe creating new parties is not the solution rather a reformation of political parties is needed. This can only happen when indigenous reform movements are developed from inside the parties rather than establishment induced experiments in the form of PML-Q and Pak Sar Zameen Party (PSP).