Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf's two-day sit-in against drone strikes that concluded in Peshawar last Sunday brought the forgotten people of Pakistan to the centre of politics. Meanwhile, the mainstream power players continue to hurtle along a beaten track, reducing politics to little more than petty personal games that have little to do with issues of public concern. Disillusioned with the naked self-indulgence of the entrenched political leadership, more and more people are beginning to view Imran Khan and his party as a sign of hope. After years of struggling, as the odd man in the muddy waters of what is passed off as democratic politics in Pakistan, Imran Khan's party is finally being considered as a serious option. This is certainly his moment. The crucial question is: Will the PTI be able to translate the hope among its growing supporters into a reality? There are many factors going in PTI's favour. The rule of law movement has already transformed the public consciousness in Pakistan. The citizens expect more from their leaders and are no longer tied up in serf-like loyalties to personalities and the parties they head. They expect their leaders to deliver and have no stomach for above-the-law behaviour on their part. The number of blind-faith jiyalas, the packs of Nawaz and Zardari lovers, are a rare species these days; only those being directly patronised carry such outmoded banners. The utter failure of governments in Islamabad and the provinces, populated by virtually every party in the political race, to measure up to these heightened expectations has led to a loss of faith in leaders across the board. This widespread disillusionment is but natural when the voters see their representatives indulging in perverse games for self-perpetuation, completely oblivious of their responsibilities. The disconnect between the public representatives and the public they are meant to represent and work for, is virtually complete. The independent judiciary that came about as a consequence of the movement has exposed the illegalities and abuse of power that the political leadership indulges in, as a matter of routine. The orders of the Supreme Court might be subverted in many cases, and remain unimplemented in others, but such goonda tactics and refusal to play by the rules has further diminished the respect of the so-called leaders in the eyes of the public. The judiciary is viewed as working in public interest, providing a clear backdrop that contrasts sharply with the leadership's petty, personal and partisan agendas. And a vibrant and free media has brought the entire democracy circus in the open; complete with the large number of clowns, expert jugglers, somersaulting acrobats, wily magicians and lions that perform silly little tricks at the crack of a whip. The political stalwarts defending the indefensible acts of their parties and leaders cut a sorry picture and come across, as opportunistic puppets without integrity and conscience. It is obvious that their sole objective is to please their dictatorial bosses and to spin sense around their mindless machinations. In short, the stage is all set for a political renewal that throws out the rotten discredited lot, weaned on a feudal style of politics and with no desire to change its ways, despite the completely changed social environment within which these remnants of a bygone era would like to stake their claims to leadership, despite the revolution that has already taken place in the public mind, despite the heightened expectations of an aware electorate that understands its place in the scheme of things much better than the times when the voters were fooled by them, their daddies or their uncles. One can say that Imran Khan's PTI could not have asked for a more fertile ground to plant the seed of hope. Unsullied by any stint in power or story of corruption, he speaks a language that the people would like to hear. He speaks courageously about standing up against the devious designs of the United States while other leaders pussyfoot around the issue, displaying a slavish helplessness. He talks about the richness of our land as others beat their padded breasts about poverty and convince us of the inescapability of our dependence on dole outs. He talks about unity while others divide us to secure their political turfs, pulling out the Sindh card one moment and giving an ethnic colour to deprivation that stems from their inadequacies and flawed policies the next. He has taken the lead and pushed other opposition leaders to break their convenient vows of silence and take better positions on national issues. He is saying the right things and looking in the right direction. But he will have to do more. To begin with, the PTI must put before the people of Pakistan workable alternatives. There is no doubt about the need to free ourselves of the suffocating embrace of the United States and the international financial institutions. What we need now is a detailed, step-by-step, roadmap of how it is to be done. How do we ensure a complete withdrawal of the United States from the region? Who do we cooperate with for peace? A think-tank on foreign policy and security must start fleshing out a concrete strategy. Similarly, another think-tank must put together a plan to create a self-reliant economy. How do we mobilise our untapped wealth? What are the steps that the PTI would take to end the energy crisis? What are the projects for cheaper and cleaner electricity that will be initiated? How will they be funded? What will be the taxation structure under a PTI government? And of course, the party needs to ensure that it is able to translate its rising popularity into an electoral victory. It is obvious that as things stand, no matter how powerful the PTI tide, it is bound to be swallowed by a tsunami of bogus votes and other methods of rigging perfected by the entrenched political players. For a level playing field, it is of utmost importance that the party runs a comprehensive campaign for the elimination of bogus votes, registration of the disenfranchised youth and an independent Election Commission. Besides, a strong party, organised at the grassroots with workers educated in the electoral process is the only guarantee against rigging on the polling day. The success of PTI will depend on its ability to fashion itself as a democratic party with worked out alternatives. Surely, there is no hope for a new party that follows the old formula: selling a charismatic leader who might say all the right things, but has no tools to deliver. The writer is a freelance columnist.