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Making sense of PTI’s defeat

One should reconcile with the fact that only change is permanent in the world. The defeat of the ruling party in recent LG polls in some tehsils of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is indicative of the same natural process of change. The PTI’s lacklustre provincial leadership, crippling rate of inflation and bad governance presumably added fuel to the fire in its defeat.

In the elections held in 17 districts of KP on December 19, the PTI – which has been in the power in the province since 2013 – displayed an unsatisfactory performance, hence affording ground to the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F).

The defeat of the PTI has presumably emboldened the rag-tag opposition parties to bask in the PTI’s defeat and forge an alliance against the ruling party in the rest of the upcoming LG polls, especially in Punjab. Such an eventuality should ring alarm bells for the ruling party.

The top leadership of the PTI has reacted by dissolving the party’s organisational structure and appointing federal ministers as new party officials. This has bitterly angered workers of the party who believe that these ministers are responsible for the rout of the party in the first phase of the LG polls. Logic and wisdom suggest that the PTI should have punished only those who had faltered. It is unwise to put everyone in the dock.

Decline in politics takes place when the ruling party dismally fails to provide a system of better governance to the people compared to that of its predecessors. In the context of Pakistan, the people exercise patience over misgovernance at least for three years. After that, they resist bearing the brunt of corruption, nepotism and lacklustre leadership. The outcomes of the LG polls in KP shed ample light on this eventuality.

The PTI leadership has blamed its defeat on the wrong selection of candidates. One can agree with the ruling party that the choice of dynastic contestants clashed with the anti-feudal motto of the PTI which the party voiced on the eve of elections in 2018. It is baffling to note that the candidates of the ruling party fought against each other in the recent LG polls in KP.

Politics at any stage necessities judicious decisions so that rival parties do not get to cash in on any opportunity. The PTI didn’t pay heed to this in a province where it has been calling the shots since 2013. The political culture of KP shows that the people of the province have always rejected oligarchic and feudal politicians.

The Mehmood Khan-led PTI’s setup in KP isn’t working as per the expectations of the people. Politics in the Indo-Pak region isn’t child play; one should be clever at making and breaking alliances to stay afloat in the power corridors. Arguably, the backing of the successful independent candidates could have considerably helped the PTI carry the day in the LG polls.

The ruling party should stomach another bitter reality: back-breaking inflation coupled with meagre prospects of employment turned out to be its Achilles heel in KP’s LG polls. The soaring inflation rate is employed as a weapon by rival parties to berate the performance of the government. Today, a layperson – who penned their hopes on the PTI till 2018 – is in the throes of an unbridled inflationary rate. Edible items have mostly slipped away from people’s purchasing power without a balm on the cards. Even the touted health card couldn’t cushion the PTI against the loss.

Our rulers shouldn’t forget that people with an empty stomach can’t think of sound health. Hunger is the mother of revolution and tectonic political shifts in societies. Doubtlessly, double-digit inflation is going to be an acid test for the PTI to prove its governance mettle. Any failure to put the genie of inflation back into the bottle could further compound the task of the PTI in LG polls in the rest of the province.

The deal with the TLP and the abortive appeasement with the TTP have visibly plummeted the prestige and recognition of the ruling party in the country. The people of KP paid a heavy price for sporadic bouts of terrorist attacks in the past. The ghastly memories of the cowardly attack on APS still reverberate in the minds of the people. The government’s attempt to stitch up a deal with the TTP with details shrouded in mystery has probably ended up angering the people. Now, the outlawed group has torpedoed the deal and started minor terrorist attacks in KP.

It was a policy blunder on the part of the PTI to display outright reluctance in taking the nation on board about the deal. Worse, the ruling party kept the nation in the dark about it. Similar was the case concerning the deal with the TLP. When the charged bigots of the TLP mercilessly killed some police personnel, the nation expected the PTI leadership to bring the perpetrators to book and clip the wings of the TLP. In contrast, the government reached an agreement with the group and allowed it to do politics with impunity. The lack of bold and prudent decision-making in times of national crisis has dealt a blow to public support for the PTI.

The aforementioned stunning failure of the PTI in LG polls shows that the party needs to discard its ostrich-centric approach to its imprudent omissions and commissions. The people have been anxiously waiting for a balm in their socio-economic suffering. More importantly, the ruling party should be alive to the fact that amnesty to extremist and terrorist outfits only adds insults to the already festering wounds of a nation reeling under insecurity, democratic uncertainties and grim socio-economic situations.

The recent LG failure can be a lasting backbone for the PTI if it welcomes it as a stepping stone for its performance in the future. The ruling party shouldn’t fume about the success of the JUI-F. Rather, it should go for urgent course correction.

Email: ayazahmed6666@gmail.com

Ayaz Ahmed, "Making sense of PTI’s defeat," The News. 2022-01-01.
Keywords: Political science , Political issues , Political culture , Political shifts , Leadership , Politicians , Corruption , Mehmood Khan , Pakistan , PTI , JUIF , TTP