IN history of Pakistan, general elections in 1970 and 2013 remain distinctively different than rest of the elections, not only in form but also in substance. Both were fiercely fought between champions of change and forces of status quo and changed political course of the country monumentally. In 1970, it was Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who challenged awesome power of feudal, industrialists and religious bigwigs and clinched victory so romantic and penetrating that it continued to reverberate despite his hanging in Gen Zia in 1979 until Zardari descended on the scene. It was a classical case of ruling from grave. Only ‘genius’ like Zardari could extinguish its light. In 2013, it was Imran Khan who threw the gauntlet and shook status quo to its core. Albeit he could not upstage them electorally yet commotion unleashed was so massive that they could not find their feet back solidly and finally, running from pillar to post to preserve their existence.
Deep down their hearts, they are scared of possible inefficacy of their political jugglery, fake reports and propaganda gimmicks in times of vibrant media ever becoming independent, concerned civil society, feverish middle class, widely awake women flock and impatient/disgruntled youth. When these sections of society stands up upbeat, change becomes just a matter of time because these people also occupy positions of influence. They could pull surprise when get the opportunity. One could vividly find its glimpses. They have contributed significantly to bring change thus far. The Bhutto did not have this advantage because he was popular among most marginalized section of society. PTI has this edge. The romance of people with Imran Khan is no less than Bhutto however, they continue to suffer buffets of disquiet, anguish and pain because of his nature of good intent, simple-mindedness and fixation. The case in point is PTI’s eagerness not to accept electable only but field them preferentially in elections too.Prior to 2013, Imran Khan was not very keen about electable but now he is over enthusiastic about them to an extent of exhorting his party workers not to taunt them objects of disdain, derision and contempt. They are necessary commodity to win elections as they know the science of winning elections. On joining of an electable in PTI, its top leadership is clearly smug which is mostly consist of traditional political lot whose past belongs to rival political parties of PTI, accused of plundering the nation. Contrarily, its cadre goes anxious and down in spirit. This is a huge dichotomy.
In electoral context, one is electable on basis of his influence in his constituency. Generally these include big landholding, unequal distribution of wealth, public spending on schemes of own glorification, greater reliance on clan system, thana – Kachehri politics, reach within district government, links with union council office bearers, ability/ capacity to spend excessively to win over voters/ local alignments and even employment of hardball tactics to muscle their way. Last but not the least, large donations to party to keep party leadership in good humor. All this involves unfair activities and huge sum of money. First they spend and after winning elections, they accumulate money to keep/enlarge their sphere of influence to win next elections. The dynastic politics is a major consideration to keep mantle of their permanency. More or less, these dynamics hold good for all electable. PTI is no exception. The change of political affiliation does not change their psyche. The party ticket to novice son of Jahangir Tareen in by election in his place is an apt example. The ideology of PTI stands for change which is at polar contrast to what electable do to satisfy their insatiable appetite for material possessions and power. They have no love lost rather harbor anathema for considerations of fair play, justice, rule of law and imperatives of a welfare state which are central to PTI’s ideology of change.
Probably electable in top hierarchy of PTI have made Imran Khan to believe that main reason for failure in 2013 elections was lack of sufficient number of electable. Possibly this is the reason that he gleefully welcome electable. Admittedly, a perception which electable generate about victory of a political party is far beneficial than their vote bank. It is generally very small. It is fortunate for PTI that a perception is fast emerging about its resounding success in 2018 elections because of big changes in ground realities. This could afford PTI to award more tickets to its ideological people. In 2013 elections, there were people who came out first time to vote for PTI. These people are likely to come out again because they know that cost of failure of Imran Khan is too high for the country. Besides, their spirit has been reinvigorated by his latest action against his MPAs for selling their soul to devil in senate elections. Arguably, these people are margin between his success and failure. Notwithstanding his confidence, Imran Khan needs to borne in mind that ascendency of its ideological cadre is an imperative for an ideological party. In its absence, its ideology remains in danger of being eclipsed and encountered with numerous road blocks on way to its implementation.
— The writer, retired Lt Col, is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.