It is always jarring to see Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) public persona and ideals, and how those ideals are twisted in the province that has been the party’s bedrock for a long time now. While the Prime Minister and his party have made corruption and accountability their central tenant, Peshawar’s BRT project has been a scandal of epic proportions, not just financially but infrastructure-wise too. Similarly, the federal government’s principal stand against giving excessive ad revenue to media houses has been undermined in KP where a provincial Minister gave millions in ads to an obscure newspaper owned by his brother. The examples are endless.

But this disconnect is the most disturbing when religious ideals are under discussion. While Imran Khan and many of the senior leaders in the party are personally liberal and advocate for centrist policies focusing on tolerance, social progression and religious freedoms, his party in KP has been guilty of some of the most regressive actions taken in the name of religion.

So once more, while the Prime Minister speaks against Indian atrocities against the Muslim faith in Kashmir and promises the Hindu community in Ghotki that no one will be allowed to oppress them on the basis of religion, a local leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in a village of Rustam valley of Mardan has distributed burqas among schoolgirls, forcing them to cover up without their consent. This is not some isolated incident; the PTI leader went on record to say that he was inspired by the directive of the adviser on education to the KP Chief Minister, which asked all girls in the province to observe strict “purdah”. The ruling party cannot advocate religious freedoms and impose puritanical interpretations of religion on the public at the same time.

The PTI may claim to be the solution to Pakistan’s problems but KP under their governance has failed to live up to the standards outlined in the party’s manifesto – and the fault lies with the PTI leadership.