One of the main reasons the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) was able to present itself as an attractive alternative in Pakistan’s traditional two party system was its criticism of dynastic politics and a robust election-based internal party system that backed that stance. Sure, parties like the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have held intra party elections as well; but they have always been a very cursory process, with top positions mostly going unopposed. By comparison, PTI has fostered a very competitive environment, which gave hope for a more modern, more inclusive party.

The latest developments in this tradition however, have given reason to doubt this commitment.

On the face of it, the move to “dissolve all party organisations, structures, wings and sub-organisations to pave the way for formation of new bodies in line with the recently-approved party’s constitution” seems like a rational, progressive step. The changes will align the party with the existing tiers of government – federal, provincial, and local – and give committees more power to make decisions rather a few officials. However, the benefits of this plan will take time to come into effect. A lot of time.

The fresh polls for intra party positions are planned for 2021 – a whopping year and a half from now. That is assuming that the elections take place on the very first day of the year. The elections may be delayed and by the time the new setup comes into place many more months may have passed.

As things are planned a vast chunk of the PTI’s tenure - the crucial years in the middle – will pass without a democratically elected intra party system in place.

Who will pick up the slack? A selected few – handpicked by Chairman Imran Khan, Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and a small committee. As things are planned, the PTI will be an oligarchy, not a democracy.