A tale of disgruntled PTI supporter
I was a supporter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) from the time when it was widely known as the political party consisting of non political people. With a seat in the Parliament, PTI was a party ridiculed by mainstream parties such as PMLQ, PML N, MMA and PPP.
Those politicians, who today are decision makers in PTI and have become unsung heroes of PTI’s followers, used to be part of PML Q, PML N, MMA or PPP and used to look at PTI as a hopeless party lead by an over ambitious, overconfident, inexperienced politician who doesn’t understand the complications of Pakistan’s system but continues with his rhetoric of justice, revolution, change. What seemed madness to these experienced politicians, motivated youngsters like myself to join the cause.
Change and revolution are words used by almost every political party in Pakistan, even by those who have come into power multiple times, but the way they were marketed by PTI is worth praising. A big part in this marketing was played by Pakistan’s electronic media- mainly the biggest media network which currently PTI is boycotting. Through continuous appearances on TV programs, Imran Khan was able to convince many youngsters, like me, that he was the sole chance of riddance from the corrupt Pakistani political elite. These videos were then effectively spread on social media and there was a time when every political party but PTI seemed corrupt and unpatriotic. To make things better for Imran, PTI soon became an urban, elite brand. It was fashionable to be supporting PTI, while the ones supporting PML N and PPP were deemed as ‘paindoos’ , backward thinking people following the same old parties.
Slogan of change soon became so popular that Imran Khan’s social media pages had hundreds and thousands of followers. It became easy and cheap for PTI to spread their messages and difficult for traditional parties to compete. Until Shahbaz Sharif made a PML-N social media team to highlight PMLN’s stance on social media, PTI’s slogans were the only viewpoints seen and shared on social media and and all this did motivated us so much that each of us would be ready to burn the Prime Minister House on Imran Khan’s orders. Most PTI supporters really did was to troll the people supporting other political parties on social media.
PTI’s famous gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan was a direct result of all the factors I have mentioned above. Youngsters were so motivated that they not only went themselves but took their families with them. Agenda was change- change of system, change of these old faces politicians we had been seeing for decades and who we were made to convince over time were unpatriotic, corrupt and incompetent. After the successful Jalsa, these supposedly unpatriotic, corrupt and incompetent politicians saw PTI’s popularity and started joining PTI. Their acceptance into the party was seen with skepticism by old die hard PTI supporters like myself but we believed in Imran Khan and his promises that whoever is coming to PTI, is coming on PTI’s agenda that the new people coming wouldn’t affect the party vision and that he wouldn’t be influenced by experienced politicians joining the party and decisions will be made on merit. We were promised that party tickets will be given to clean politicians who would carry the vision of PTI forward.
Then came elections and PTI’s tickets were sold instead of been given on merit. Even the ones given to youngsters were given to youngsters of those political and elite families who had been part of Pakistani political system since decades (apart from rare exceptions in KP). Those PTI leaders who had supported Imran Khan in difficult times and actually believed in vision of PTI were sidelined. Their years of struggle didn’t match the advantages that PTI now had due to the new members that had come from other political parties- luxuries of private jets, huge funds for jalsas, money for campaign on television etc.. Very skeptic by now, I still decided to trust Imran Khan. Although by now, I had realized that Imran Khan will not bring the change he promised and for which I initially started supporting him, he still seemed a better option than already established parties.
I was in Hong Kong when the elections happened and sadly couldn’t vote. I did convince many friends, family members to go out and vote for PTI.
When PTI emerged as the second most popular party in Pakistan in terms of number of votes and made a government in KP, expectations from PTI were high. So much was the trust in PTI that social media was full of pictures with captions of Peshawar 2018 and showing pictures of HongKong, NewYork etc.. That probably was the high point of my romance with PTI. From there on, PTI has given me and millions of other supporters like me nothing but disappointments. From D.I. Khan Jail break to PTI’s reluctance to help federal government in stopping electricity theft, PTI’s KP government has been a disappointment (although still better than previous ANP government).
Most of PTI’s members in KP assembly are tax defaulters and there is no internal mechanism in the party to punish such people-instead they hold important party positions.
Even in center, PTI as an opposition party has done blunders after blunders. From Imran Khan’s statement underestimating the strength of our armed forces, to an overall confused Anti Terrorism policy, PTI’s presence as a popular party has done nothing but harmed Pakistan.
Now after one year of elections, coming up with a conspiracy theory that former Chief Justice, with the help of a news channel of Pakistan, made a master plan to steal PTI’s mandate is not convincing at all. It would have been a little convincing if two of PTI’s assembly members from KP had not been de-seated by election tribunals after allegations of electoral rigging were proved on them. Important to mention here is that those votes which NADRA has declared as unverifiable are not necessarily fake votes. They are unverifiable because of low quality non magnetic ink used and other procedural flaws during the general elections which should have been avoided. Nevertheless these things were not under control of present government and only thing that can happen now is to push for electronic voting in all future elections to avoid such mistakes again. However, PTI is adamant to ask for verification of votes (not possible because of ink issue) and wants to mobilize its supporters for a campaign on this issue.
Once again, highly patriotic PTI workers are being motivated with slogans of change, tsunami, revolution. For me it doesn’t make sense anymore since PTI runs government in KP and has considerable number of seats in NA. It is now controlled by seasoned politicians who have been a part of both PML N and PPP. PTI is now a part of status quo, so it has to learn to behave like it and is trying to improve the system through the forums provided by the system and constitution.
Nevertheless, in one year after elections, PTI, in center and KP, has been a huge disappointment. I couldn’t vote for PTI on May 11 2013 but I now guess that it is okay. It is okay because PTI has disappointed its old followers and has become like every other political party in Pakistan.