I voted PTI in the 2013 elections. I argued for hours with supporters of other political parties to try and convince them to vote PTI and when I say argued, I am not talking about smugly sitting at a desk chastising people for their political affiliations on Facebook, I actually went out and about and argued with anyone who’d dare openly proclaim their support for any political party other than PTI. I should have known better! Reminiscing, I can’t think of any other activities that would have been as pointless. What an absolute waste of my time!
Why this radical shift in political allegiance? From vehemently supporting PTI just 9 months ago to detesting them now, what changed? I guess the simple answer would be a bit too many people were killed and a bit too many transgressions against personal freedoms either had PTI’s implicit support or were actually perpetrated by PTI.
Let’s look at the killings. Until recently, every time there was an act of sectarian violence, an attack on the security forces or belligerence against a religious minority, the PTI leadership would promptly condemn the act and demand justice while skirting around the subject of the perpetrators. The perpetrators themselves, on the other hand, proudly proclaimed responsibility for their heroics. The PTI mantra always remained negotiations and drones. It was telling when PTI’s leadership failed to show up for the funeral of Aitazaz Hasan Bangash, the young hero who saved countless lives by sacrificing himself. It wasn’t until the social media picked the story and ran with it that Imran Khan decided to criticize PTI (wait, what?). By this point, the public discourse had turned largely against TTP after the string of attacks they’d carried out, just look at the abuse Imran Khan and other PTI leaders were receiving on social media for failing to criticize the TTP and so, PTI decided to actually blame the TTP for a couple of their more high profile attacks. A little too forced, a little too late!
Now, let’s move on to violations of personal freedoms. How about starting off with the elections? Remember how women in certain areas of KPK were prevented from casting their votes? Remember the lack of criticism leveled at this curtailment of those women’s human rights? Remember this website called YouTube and how PTI has remained mum about it? Do you recall how the Central vice president of PTI Mian Mukarram Shah demanded the ministries of religious affairs be given to Taliban in the federal cabinet and all provincial cabinets to stem terrorism? How about the ban on Malala’s book? Another controversy, another admonishment by Imran Khan. What are PTI’s views regarding a ban on girls wearing jeans in public places and compulsory hijabs and niqãbs? After all, Imran Khan has been one of the most vocal (if not the most vocal) proponents of negotiations with the TTP.
Some people believe that since Imran Khan studied in the UK at Oxford, he has to be a liberal. If that were true, Anjem Choudary, a former solicitor and a British National of Pakistani descent, would not have formed a number of border line fundamentalist Islamic organizations (infamous for training jihadis and shipping them off to Afghanistan along with demanding the implementation of Shari’ah law in the UK). Apparently, Anjem Choudary loved to party before turning to “Islam”. Also, the existence of the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL) should help remove any doubts regarding a lack of extremism in the UK (although in the cases of BNP and EDL, it’s not Islamic extremism).
Let’s not forget NA-56 Rawalpindi, the constituency Imran Khan kept for himself. How many times has the great leader visited his constituency since getting sworn in as an MNA? The answer, scandalous as it may be, is once and that too as the guest of honor at an educational institute. With the announcement of a Metro service in Pindi, property prices around Muree road will plummet and almost all businesses with a presence in the city will be negatively effected. Has Imran Khan, the representative of NA-56 (the area which would bear the brunt of economic upheaval) said a word on the subject?
The only good that’s come out of the PTI camp so far was the immunization campaign in Peshawar, KPK and even there, while one of the symptoms was treated, the ailment was not. The ailment continues to be fostered and nurtured and every time there is talk of an operation to remove this cancer, there is rage in the PTI ranks.