PTI: Learn from past mistakes, make new ones.

imran gag

I am one of the people who do not see the Judicial Commission’s (JC) report as Imran Khan’s or Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf’s (PTI) defeat. Although Khan’s allegations of organized and planned rigging have been rejected – for lack of evidence, the report seems to agree that the general elections 2013 were largely irregular.

The report is now in and is a public document. For the first time in Pakistan’s history an election has been audited as a whole. The resulting conclusions have exposed most of the irregularities that have, since decades, created opportunity for electoral malpractices. This has provided the parliament and state with a real opportunity to rid our system of these shortcomings and move towards better, fairer elections in the future. No political party deserves more credit for this opportunity than PTI.

However, allegations of rigging and foul play, formation of JC, its proceedings and subsequent report are a thing of the past. How PTI reacts in the aftermath of this report would decide its future. 2015 may not be the election year after all. Imran Khan may not get a shot at premiership just yet. He and his party should now be eying 2018 elections and begin anew on the path to victory.

Visibly shaken and not very confident, Khan did accept the JC’s report and vowed to learn from past mistakes. That is what progress and improvement is all about; learning from mistakes. But are Khan and his party on the same page when it comes to identifying ‘past mistakes’? Is Khan’s idea of in-house cleaning in line with that of party’s ideological supporters?

Since the early months of this year, Imran Khan and Justice (retd) Wajih Ud Din seem to have been at loggerheads with each other. The bone of contention were alleged irregularities in PTI’s intra-party elections. While Wajih Ud Din; head of the party’s election tribunal, recommended fresh elections and action against some big names in Khan’s new PTI, Khan – apparently at the behest and under the influence of these big names – seemed more inclined towards rendering Wajih and his findings ineffective.

Wajih Ud Din has, on very rare occasions, gone public with his sentiments on his party’s inner workings and also on the influence and interference of “big names” in party affairs which is, according to him, causing detriment to the party. I remember questioning PTI’s legal minds in one of my earlier pieces on the memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between PTI and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN). The language of the MOU and the TORs therein were hinting at a potential setback for PTI and I wondered how a party that has legal minds like Hamid Khan and Wajih Ud Din within its ranks, could overlook such obvious lacunas. Now that Hamid Khan and Wajih Ud Din have both revealed that they were not even a part of the process, my questions stand answered.

Keeping these two gentleman out of the loop is one of the biggest ‘past mistakes’. How is PTI learning from it? Apparently by suspending Wajih’s basic membership of the party. Khan’s justification for adhering to the requests of his “real friends” is that Wajih Ud Din acted in violation of Imran Khan’s gag order. The gag order was circulated on 4th of August, part of the order states:

“PTI is a democratic party and members have the right to express their opinion within the party,” (bold added for emphasis)

When Mr. Wajih appeared on a talk show and re-iterated his reservations, along with his support for and confidence in the party’s chairman, his membership was immediately suspended. I have a feeling that Mr. Hamid Khan would be next.

The journey it seems, has begun anew. The phase of picking hitch hikers from any and all political parties is almost over, now begins the phase of evicting those who formed the old PTI. Before naya pakistan, there is a nayi PTI in the making.

PTI is a “democratic” party, one that does not allow freedom of expression. I think I have seen such attitudes somewhere else, Oh yes, in PMLN, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and several other political parties. Khan’s “change” is beginning to sound more and more like “same”. Every year, PTI is a little less different, a little less progressive.

I am in no position to advise Imran Khan. Primarily because mine is not a ‘big name’, secondly because I am not a member of his party, and also because maybe I am not that wise. But there are wise people in Khan’s party. And apparently they are standing in line by the exit door. If PTI wants a shot at the next elections, the chairman has to think things over. Maybe go on a vacation alone. Meditate, introspect and let him be his own advisor for a few days. Above all he needs to identify friends from foes, and before beginning to learn from past mistakes, he needs to correctly identify his mistakes.

Imran Khan does have blind fans, just like PPP and PMLN, who will follow Khan anywhere, I am sure to find some in the comments below, but there are ideological, prudent PTI supporters too, ones PTI stands to lose every time it shows the door to people like Wajih Ud Din.

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