Monday, February 8, 2016

PTI - Renaissance (Part-1): What is wrong with 'Brand PTI'?

PTI - Renaissance
Part-1: What is wrong with 'Brand PTI'?
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By: Shah Zalmay Khan
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P   T   I - what comes to mind when one hears this word?
- A party led by a charismatic, popular and honest man who gave the country a lot - Imran Khan?
- A party that seems to be contesting (and mostly ending up DISTANT RUNNER UP despite apparent tough fight) in jealously guarded strongholds of other parties - North/Central Punjab (PMLN), South Punjab (PPP + Independents), Urban Sindh (MQM), Rural Sindh (PPP), Peshawar Valley (ANP), Hazara (PMLN), South KP (JUI-F) and Balochistan (Achakzai + JUI + Sardars + Nationalists)?
- A party represented by enthusiastic young supporters on social media platforms - from outright abusive trolls to thoughtful supporters who take honest pains to explain every (right or even wrong) move of the leadership?
- A party whose leaders / supporters seem to be whining 24/7 on media, social media and in the public sphere about what all is wrong with the country – from shiny metro buses (and pathetic health services) in Lahore TO kids dying of hunger & disease in Thar TO mafia politics in Karachi TO injustices with smaller provinces on CPEC TO the federal govt’s step-motherly attitude with the PTI-led KPK province?
- A party that is struggling to define & exhibit its governance direction halfway into its tenure in the only province under its charge – KP?
- A party that has been in politics for past 20 years but stands as directionless today (or perhaps even more), than it was on its foundation day?

What exactly does PTI stand for? What it wants to achieve? And how? Any direction or roadmap? Any Think Tank advising the party leadership (read Chairman) on policy matters or party organization? On what and when to speak (and tweet)? Or when damn not to?
Who decides which issues PTI focuses; for how much time and with how much intensity?

Is any SWOT analysis of the party affairs being done in light of whatever is transpiring since 2013 elections, and especially after the Long March / Dharna?
Has any feasibility study been done of what the party can (and cannot) achieve in the varying political environ of a country with vastly differing (and often clashing) interests of different groups (based on region / ethnicity / social structure / income status / education / urban exposure)?

It seems Imran Khan – and PTI – have been assuming (and still do) that it is the people’s responsibility to understand THEM; feel the difference between THEM and others; and choose THEM, rejecting the incumbents. Seems like a plausible assumption. No?

NOOOOO.

Strange and illogical as it may sound, it is the party’s responsibility to make people understand THEM; make the people feel the difference; give them enough incentive to break free from their ritualized choices so they choose THEM and reject their respective incumbents. Confused? Yes. It is confusing and PTI is paying the price of this confusion.

Politics – especially in developing countries with high illiteracy and low political awareness – is not a science, with definite rules & equations that hold in any & all situations.
Instead, in countries like ours, politics is an art; where things are not measured based on RIGHT or WRONG, but on the basis of PRACTICAL and IMPRACTICAL.

In Pakistani-style politics, roughly five things matter most:

1) Card……. 2) Backing…….. 3) Party Organization……… 4) Attractive Rhetoric……. 5) Maneuvering

Any successful political franchise needs AT LEAST TWO of these under its belt (more than 2 are a bonus). How? Think of the various political parties and see which has what under its belt (ab sara kaam me hi karoon? Aap loog bethay rotiyan tortay raho?)

Coming back…. let us assess PTI on these 5 criteria and see the havoc it has played with itself over the past many years:
1) Card. 
PTI has no ‘card’ to cash on. All available cards in the market (Sindhi / Punjabi / Baloch / Pukhtoon / Mohajir / Muslim / Shia / Sunni) have been taken already by various parties.
2) Backing.
Successful political ventures need to have backing of at least some ‘powerful players’ (Allah, America, Army, Arabs, Business class or Militant wing). While Allah prefers to be generally neutral in Pakistani politics, PTI doesn’t seem to be in good books of America, Arabs and Businessmen and it has no militant wing either. While some may argue that army favours it, there is little evidence of any tangible ‘institutional’ support for PTI from the army.
3) Party Organization.
One word: Obsolete. On a provincial model that makes little sense; highly inefficient, divisive and thus counterproductive.
4) Attractive Rhetoric.
In PTI’s case it is either terrible (at worst) or at least missing (at best).RIGGING has been PTI’s narrative since 2013 and it takes no rocket scientist to tell you that while the public may agree with PTI’s point of view on the issue, the narrative has become boring to death (for the public). Someone has to tell Imran Khan that every time he utters the word rigging, he loses a supporter or two OR a couple of prospective supporters are repulsed. No, not because people think Imran Khan is not speaking the truth about rigging. But because people have realized the futility of insisting on this narrative and refusing to move on. It’s like a sweet melody on ‘repeat mode’ on a CD player; becoming boring and in due course, repulsive. Khan Saab: You get it?
And while TABDEELI may sound like an ‘attractive rhetoric’ to hold on to, it is not. Not per se, but because it entails something that exposes the US more than the THEM, especially when the party has become a cocktail of fresh & old vines in the same flask (errrrrr).
5) Maneuvering.
Imran Khan is simply not made for that. Sorry :(
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Continued in Part-2 here

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The writer is a tribesman from Bajaur Agency (FATA) and tweets at @ZalmayX .
(No official association with PTI)

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Disclaimer: This blog is not an official PTI webpage and is run by a group of volunteers having no official position in PTI. All posts are personal opinions of the bloggers and should, in no way, be taken as official PTI word.
With Regards,
"Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf FATA Volunteers" Team.


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