Is it a case of now or never for Pakistan’s Imran Khan?

Syed Jawaid Iqbal
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Much against expectations, Imran Khan or his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are not yet making a big bang. It seems everyone in the PTI camp is complacent and no one is bothering about the tactics and strategies that could be adopted in the next elections.

Does that mean Imran Khan as the next prime minister of the country is a foregone conclusion? If that is so, how will Imran and the PTI achieve this objective?


For all intents and purposes not even an outline of a “shadow government” has been seen so far. Many important developments have taken place in the country. Most importantly, the outgoing government announced a federal budget which would impact Pakistan’s financial future for the coming years but the PTI has so far only made the usual noises about it and has not come forward with concrete financial proposals of its own.

PTI and Imran Khan himself have made claims that they have everything sorted out and when they come to power, they will have a competent team handling the country’s affairs. None of that has come to the fore as of now. Even decision-making in the party, as was evident in PTI suggesting names for appointment of Punjab’s interim chief minister, is not on firm grounds.

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Then, where is the party manifesto? For a party that claims to have a capable think-tank, they should have worked on it much in advance and released it now or even earlier. Perhaps Imran Khan’s talk of what PTI plans to do in the first 100 days after it comes into power, based on the issues and problems that the country faces, is its manifesto.

It is through its performance in its first 100 days of power that the PTI plans to take Pakistan forward.

Even then, there is a lack of confidence evident in the body language of Imran Khan and his team. Their convictions are somehow not coming through. They are also faced with serious challenges on many fronts. There is the challenge of non-delivery of promises that were in 2013 elections, most of whom were not met.

Good work has been done in the health and police sectors in the Khaibar Pakhtoon Khwa (KPK), the province where his party is in power, but other subjects remain ignored. In fact, Pervez Khattak, a PTI die-hard who served as Chief Minister of KPK, has been charged with corruption and nepotism and has many things to answer for.

Imran Khan must be given credit that he has continued to raise a voice for the rule of justice in Pakistan and has also succeeded in putting Nawaz Sharif on the mat

Sayed Jawaid Iqbal

Wife attack

Imran’s second former wife Reham Khan plans to publish her so-called autography very soon. If she does so and even if the book talks about the personal relations that existed between the couple while they were married, the material would again negatively impact Imran Khan’s political objectives. It seems while Reham is disillusioned with Imran’s political views and plans to talk about these in her book.

Recently, the PTI issued election tickets and it transpired that many old workers of the party, some even founders, were left out and new faces were chosen to contest elections. Whether this was because of lack of confidence about their winning capability or electability of the new entrants is still unclear.

Does this represent the slogan of “tabdeeli” (change) that Imran Khan and his party have touted all along? If his purpose is to get into the parliament on the back of electable candidates and it does not really matter to him if these people subscribe to any change in Pakistan then perhaps it would be correct to say that the champion of change has deviated from his original approach just to get power.

Imran Khan must be given credit that he has continued to raise a voice for the rule of justice in Pakistan and has also succeeded in putting Nawaz Sharif on the mat. It is hoped that Imran’s stance on the rule of law will continue and his approach will not change even when he comes to power. This was not evident in the KPK when PTI was running the government but this fact should not be treated as an indication of the future.

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There are signs that this time around, the PTI will not have such a clean sailing in the KPK as it did in 2013 and other contenders, mainly the religious parties, would also give a strong showing. In Punjab province, PML (N) is likely to emerge as a prominent player even though Nawaz Sharif would not be in the fray. PTI here would only succeed in making partial inroads.

The PTI’s main battleground would be Punjab and the KPK to some extent. Imran Khan’s effective weapon in all provinces will be youth who still believe in him and are confident he will deliver. Imran is expected to get good support from the youth since more than 20 million young individuals have crossed the age of 18 and have become eligible voters. They are unlikely to vote for the old tried and tested politicians.

In the final analysis, Imran’s PTI may not win a clear majority in the National Assembly and will probably settle for a coalition. This will create a weak government and perhaps it will be in the future interest of Pakistan since the powers that be will then be able to formulate a long-term agenda.

President & CEO of perception management company, CMC, Syed Jawaid Iqbal is a well-known author and public relations guru. Karachi-based Jawaid Iqbal has represented Pakistan at several regional and international forums and has been Chairman, Pakistan Chapter of the Colombo-based South Asia Media Association. He is associated with several social welfare organizations and contributes to leading newspapers. He has also presented TV talk shows on current affairs. In 2003 he founded the Society for Global Moderation – a private-sector think tank, strengthening tolerance, inter-faith harmony and democracy. His book “On Record” was released in 2004. His twitter handle is @Jayeye49.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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