Another prelude to the hubbub of the election, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has confirmed ticket holder for NA-161 Ali Tareen has pulled out of the polls. Looking back, Ali Tareen’s leap into the party, and sub sequential unexpected defeat to PML-N’s Peer Iqbal, came at the NA-154 by-election in Lodhran. Where Imran Khan had attributed the defeat in the Lodhran by-election as the result of ‘fielding an ‘inexperienced candidate’, and a lack of choice in candidates in the party, the young Tareen had managed to grab 91, 230 votes, much to his credit. The party could have subsequently built on his gains, for Tareen showed a refreshing change from regular mud-slinging politics, not resorting to maligning the opposition and in fact extending courteous overtures to his opponents. If given time and the right amount of encouragement, the party could have cultivated a strong candidate that exhibited much needed political maturity in the political arena.

Political critics are quick to dub the revocation yet another U-turn by the PTI, and the move does play into the party’s penchant of retrospective politicking, where grandiose rhetoric and personalities are propagated only to be revoked. Yet the move might just be a cognisant party decision. A point raised in Mr. Tareens’ withdrawal speech holds true as a strategic rebuttal, one which the PTI leadership should latch onto, that there are many other suitable and more seasoned candidates for PTI tickets that profess ideological congruity with the party. Mr. Tareen’s withdrawal, though ill-timed and chastening, makes room for more entrenched members of the party to come to the fore. The PTI can use the withdrawal to its advantage by propagating a member with established influence, one who is more rooted in union council and tehsilnetworks- a prerequisite that Tareen could not have cultivated at this time, during his brief stint in politics.

At this stage and at hair’s width from the elections, the PTI needs to nominate its strongest members to put up a good fight. The constituency in question holds strategic importance, with PTI and PML-N in a face-off, especially since NA 161, as Jehangir Tareens’ home-ground stands to be not only a redemptive gain if won, but also a territorial affirmation. Ultimately, the PTI should focus on streamlining its ranks to make use of its most seasoned members at political focal points and concentrating on local level politics rather than a national rhetoric.