Some soul searching for PTI?
Another reality check
Usual claims of rigging notwithstanding – though a little downplayed this time – the NA-101 by-election just confirms PTI’s downtrend. Right through the by-elections and local body polls it has not managed much to write home about. And each time it has blamed the loss on rigging, irregularities, etc, and threatened agitation, but never considered going back to the drawing board. Now, with campaigning season for the next big election just around the corner, perhaps the Wazirabad reality check will prompt some soul-searching in the ‘party of the masses’.
The first smart move would be to make and honest and sincere assessment of the problems. Going into the huddle believing they were robbed at every election at every level would be neither realistic nor practical. They must acknowledge, therefore, that their worries do not just revolve around their inability to convert their jalsa momentum into electoral victory. There are various issues in the working mechanism of the party, some of which are coming to the fore as it tries to conduct an internal election again. This time the vote has been delayed because some members were found misusing the new system to register more than one vote. Needless to say, this does not behoove a party that calls for taking the corrupt to task.
More specifically, though, PTI’s main problem is not taking the democratic system seriously. First, after not accepting the ’13 election result, it took the dharna way and sought to uproot the government. Then, going forward, it chose more agitation over partaking in the affairs of the House. As a result, most of the present electoral cycle has passed with PTI largely losing elections and threatening to jam the system while claiming to promote democracy. Surely party leaders will now admit that, looking back, it seems raising electoral problems in the Assembly, instead of on the streets, might have been a better idea. In order to regain some of its lost relevance the party must look inward and display the kind of political maturity that it has avoided so far
The seven-member party
The toothless PSP
Announcing a party without a political programme is like putting the cart before the horse. The only thing the dissidents have no confusion about is the need to expose Altaf Hussain and demolish MQM. In about three weeks time the two-member demolition squad has expanded to seven but has failed so far to cause large scale desertions from the MQM despite sufficient external support for the enterprise.
On Wednesday, the group finally christened itself as Pakistan Sarzameen Party (PSP). What it offered for a political programme was a set of platitudes like patriotism being their guiding principle and serving the masses their sole aim. According to Mustafa Kamal separate flags were responsible for creating divisions among political parties. The new party would therefore hoist only the Pakistan flag on its offices. The PSP’s distinctive political progrmme comprised no more than two points i.e., devolution of power and replacement of parliamentary system with a presidential one. There was no word about the party’s economic policies.
This strengthens the view that the new party leadership has no political vision. Kamal put a foot wrong by asserting that the system had deteriorated to an extent that even angels could not set it right. This indicates pessimism that one does not expect from a politician launching a new party. Instead of arguing his case, Mutafa Kamal resorted to histrionics like crying on the stage that reminded one of his erstwhile leader. Earlier, one of the seven leaders had vowed that the new party would shun ethnic politics. Kamal’s views about carving out provinces have already led the new opposition alliance in Sindh to reject the new party for indulging in divisive politics. His appeal for amnesty for MQM workers who, according to him, committed crimes on Altaf Hussain’s behest is seen by many as an attempt to seek the support of desperadoes involved in heinous crimes out of sheer political opportunism. PSP may ultimately succeed in weakening the MQM but has little prospects as a national political force.