Pakistan News

Politics of maturity

Politics of  maturity

THE end of the PTI’s long, distressing saga to dispute the overall result of the May 2013 general and knock the PML-N out of power has brought to the fore the next question, and this one centres on the PTI itself: what can and what does the party want to achieve in politics from here?

The PTI has perfected the politics of protest on the streets and in press conferences, but the party does not appear to have a clear idea or vision for practising parliamentary politics.

Yesterday, Imran Khan should have been in parliament and faced squarely whatever it was that Mr Khan and his party had anticipated and sought to avoid in the National Assembly.

Know more: As NA meets, time for a PTI remorse

If it was embarrassment that the PTI feared at the hands of the PML-N, then it’s about time the party learned the up-and-down nature of representative democracy. If it was to avoid the opportunist attacks of the MQM and JUI-F, then the PTI had a duty to defend publicly why its members were and remain legitimate members of parliament – which the PTI MNAs are, whatever the MQM and JUI-F may say.

Yet, the PTI’s ambivalent relationship with representative democracy goes much deeper than a single, closely watched session of parliament. In Islamabad, the party had demonstrated that it either does not understand or does not care for playing the role of a meaningful and effective opposition.

The PTI in general and Mr Khan in particular appear to only see a role for themselves when the party is running the affairs of the state. But then what to make of the anaemic record in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the PTI leads the governing coalition in the provincial assembly?

It is in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that the party has really struggled with translating into action its mantra of change and anti-status quo politics.

How meaningfully different are the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assembly and government when compared to the Punjab assembly and government in terms of legislation, oversight, administration, reforms and improvement in the quality of public service?

Surely, even the most ardent of PTI supporters would accept that the party has failed to meet its own expectations in the only province it has ever governed.

Perhaps the PTI would argue that what the party wants to achieve can only be done through the centre. But that would ignore the transformative 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which devolved many of the basic services the state is obliged to provide to the provincial level.

Even then, however, where are the ideas at the federal level? Where are the bills that the PTI has tabled via its individual MNAs and senators?

What is the PTI’s input for fixing the electricity sector or improving the tax system? Surely, the PTI’s parliamentary record is not worthy of a party that won the second-largest share of votes nationally.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2015

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