A few months ago, I was having dinner with an old friend, who lives amidst rustic rural surroundings on Simly Dam Road near Islamabad. It was during the meal that I happened to comment on the appalling condition of the road, in spite of the fact that it led to a major water source for the Federal Capital and served a very large number of communities. On a subsequent trip just before ‘Ramadan’, I saw ‘crush’ being unloaded on some sections of the route and graders at work, followed by road rollers. I could not however understand the logic of leaving sections of the road untouched and no apparent plans for construction of storm drains on both sides. I wondered if those at the helm of local affairs had the sense to understand that rains and subsequent water erosion would speedily destroy the berm and then the surface, wasting the huge amount spent on the project. I mentioned this to a few locals, who replied that the work was likely to be slowed down until the last days of the present government, with the sections left untouched and then the surface would be metaled. What the locals predicted has now turned out to be true, I am told that in the last 48 hours of the PML N government, metaling of the road has begun. Soon a plaque would be installed at a prominent spot stating that the project was conceived and implemented by the Ruling Party through its MNA.
This is not the only piece of pre-election gimmickry that PML N is resorting to. A glaring example is the premature inauguration of the new Islamabad Airport and the opening of the Lahore Orange Line Project (just 11 kilometers of it) by the Chief Minister Punjab, who unbelievably termed the event as a ‘Pre Launch Inauguration’. I could actually go on and on enumerating the launchings and setting up of ‘inauguration plaques’ to impress voters. The true state of affairs is that most or all of these projects are incomplete and the Ruling Party activity is nothing short of making a fool out of the nation. The irony of it all is that the PML N vote bank is more than likely to become willing fools and once again cast their ballot in favor of a political party that has given Pakistan nothing, but heart burn.
The mad rush of ‘electables’ to Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf continues to be a new dilemma for the Party Chairperson Imran Khan i.e. ticket distribution. In my opinion, Khan Sahib’s decision to let people in after screening by the Parliamentary Committee has come a bit too late. The coming days are likely to witness large scale unrest in PTI. This will be the acid test of Imran’s political sagacity and leadership since he will be faced with something of a ‘catch 22’ situation. The old loyal party workers, who have stood by their leader through hard times and expect to be rewarded by being nominated, are not likely to ‘swallow’ the award of tickets to those, who have recently ‘parachuted’ into PTI. These newcomers are however ‘electables’, something that Khan Sahib needs to be in a dominating position in the electoral results. Old party workers perhaps need to understand that it is only by winning or dominating the election in terms of numbers, can their struggle be rewarded and that would only become possible by having people, who can win (no matter when they arrived) in party ranks, even if they are ‘deserters’ from other political entities. This will require a pragmatic and mature approach by cadres, with a long party association. If PTI can successfully pass this test, it would emerge as an invincible political entity. If not, then the resulting chaos may prove disastrous, creating opportunities for PPP and perhaps even the PML N to benefit from the situation. It would also mean wastage of a struggle that inspired millions across the country, even galvanizing the silent majority into political activism.
The writer is a freelance columnist.