Pakistan’s Changing Political Landscape: The Triumph of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

DR SUMERA SHAMS         -      Founded in 1996 by Chairman Imran Khan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) emerged as a sociopolitical movement stimulated by the slogan “justice, humanity and self-reliance.” With a visionary leader and consolidated structure, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has now become the country’s largest political party and has successfully altered the weak political system shaped by the long-term monopoly fashioned by the traditional opportunistic politics of two major political parties. Even though Quaid’s vision indicated the country to be a democracy, the political arena was dominated by military rule for almost three decades. Alongside this, two dynastic political parties inculcated the two-party system. An apparent tug of war began between the two, so much so that when one was in majority in the Parliament, the other slung mud at their character and vice versa, but there were instances when both parties stood together for a common notorious political aim. The spell finally broke when a third party gained momentum. The early years were a struggle to keep the party alive, and the party faced initial failures in the elections primarily due to completely inexperienced election candidates of PTI with clean careers and no patronage. Later in the 2002 elections, despite the might of General Musharraf’s election machinery designed to rig the election in favour of his preselected politicians, PTI won one National Assembly seat and one seat in the then NWFP Provincial Assembly. Meanwhile, the leader maintained his criticism of corruption and economic inequality in Pakistan, as well as his opposition to the Pakistani government’s cooperation in the socalled War on Terrorism of the US. In protest of General Musharraf’s declaration of a state of emergency, his nomination for president, and the NRO to PPP and PML-N, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf boycotted the 2008 elections. Despite its electoral struggles, the party gained support, especially among the youth, and in the years leading to the 2013 elections, the PTI drew large crowds at rallies and attracted the support of several veteran political figures of Pakistan. On October 30, 2011, PTI drew a crowd of 100,000 in a rally in Lahore, which gained notoriety as a political ‘tsunami.’ In a relatively nascent state, PTI formed government in KP in 2013 and within a span of five years, not only retained its provincial government but also formed a government at the centre and in Punjab in the 2018 elections. The systematic transformation in the political arena of Pakistan was achieved by PTI owing to redeeming the civil-military balance and challenging the traditional political forces through organised mobilisation of the youth, spreading political awareness by having a strong ideology and counter-narrative. After the 2013 elections, PTI utilised all resources to draw the attention of ECP and the Supreme Court towards the rigging and pledged to investigate four constituencies of the National Assembly and re-count 25 others, however, they only faced disappointment. This led to the announcement of PTI’s movement against election rigging. Rallies protested all across Pakistan, and later the formal marathon sit-in was announced in Islamabad in August 2014, which lasted for an unprecedented 126 days. The main objectives of the fourmonth sit-in included a transparent and impartial investigation of electoral rigging, judicial investigation of those involved in rigging and, most importantly, reforms in the electoral system and election commission to permanently eliminate the threat of election rigging from the country. In the traditional political landscape, only two parties, PPP and PML-N, had strong voter bases in Sindh and Punjab, respectively. However, the PTI has emerged as the most popular party in the whole country with governments in kP and Punjab, as the largest opposition party in Sindh and with significant representation in Balochistan. After shattering political idols in four provinces, the PTI has emerged as the powerful and popular political party in Azad Jammu and kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan as well. The credit for the PTI’s glorious popularity goes to the people of Pakistan, who grew tired of an outdated and rotten political system based on dynastic politics and corruption. Accordingly, the major motive for the masses to support PTI was also the reason that no other political party or any leader pointed out the incessant corruption of the two parties that dominated the political spectrum of Pakistan. The elitist mindset associated with politics in Pakistan came crashing down when a party rose from among the middle class to challenge the status quo. When the masses started feeling relatable and could actually approach the political corridor unlike before, they started taking more interest in politics. This was precisely something the elitist parties did not want - they did not want political awareness among the masses, in order to keep the power concentrated in the hands of the selected few. In the sweeping 18th amendment which these parties advocated for in pursuance of a democratic system in the country, they slyly removed a sub-clause of intra-party elections from the Constitution. This implies that these parties were not interested in bringing forward new leadership from the grassroots levels of the party workers, and only were interested in following the primogeniture system of transferring leadership. This is true even today. In the by-elections held in 2022, PTI chairman Imran khan himself contested the election against the dynastic political system and the people of Pakistan sent their message through the ballot box. The fame and support for PTI have increased manifold in the country, which is clearly indicated by the victory in the constituency of erstwhile Kurram Agency, where PTI won even without running a campaign in the constituency. The opposing parties have been scared of the adoration and support Imran khan has gathered over the past two decades, particularly his ouster as a result of the regime change conspiracy. They have played many dirty tricks to pull him down, however, Imran Khan gained more fame and support than before in every trap they have laid. Even recently, at the current Azadi March, Chairman PTI was shot in a failed assassination attempt to bring down the howling voice of change echoing from the tremendous support of the people. The incompetent sitting government has failed to provide security to the biggest party of the country but only indulges in spiteful remarks about the party leadership. 

Imran Khan’s victory in six out of seven National Assembly seats he contested, the huge turnout in the Azadi March and the continuation of the March despite his injury, is a clear prediction of the future of politics in Pakistan, where Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will be triumphant in the next general elections with an unparalleled two-third majority.

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