Ayaz Sadiq the PML-N candidate for National Assembly Speaker was re-elected  to the coveted  post on Monday 9th November, with the support of all the parties represented in the National Assembly, except PTI, with a thumping majority of 268 votes. The PTI candidate Shafqat Mahmood obtained 31 votes. The result was a foregone conclusion after Ayaz’s victory in the by-election for NA-122.  The incumbent was congratulated by the leaders of all the political parties including his opponent from PTI who assured full support to the Speaker in the house in reforming the electoral system and strengthening of democracy, which was a good gesture in the best democratic traditions. However Imran Khan who made a brief appearance only to cast his vote, left the Assembly before the announcement of the result and did not have the spunk to stay back and also congratulate the winner to reinforce his democratic credentials, if he had any.  A journalist in the press gallery commented that it was good that he left because he would not have been able to control his impulsive streak to declare the election for the speaker as’ rigged’.  In a press conference Imran has already declared that NA-122 is going to have a hat-trick of by-elections as his party has collected evidence of electoral fraud which will be presented to the Election Commission.

The word rigging has almost become a stuff of ridicule. Our people despite the myriad of problems still have a good sense of humour. The other day I went to a green grocers shop to fetch vegetables. There were four individuals already there and one of them asked the grocer to make sure that while weighing the vegetables on the weighing scale he does not indulge in ‘rigging’. The grocer retorted, do not blame me for that but the Election Commission. All the people standing there had a good laugh. It indicates that Imran Khan has surely overdone his rigging mantra showing irrepressible stubbornness, notwithstanding the rejection of his claims by the Election Tribunals, Election Commission, Judicial Commission, Supreme Judicial Council, defeat in almost all the by-elections for NA seats and a massive rebuke in the first phase of local body elections in Punjab and Sind; a trend which is likely to stay on course in the subsequent phases.

The PTI is no more a party of transformative change as it was back in 2011 to 2012.  The euphoria for change generated by Imran Khan attracted the urban middle class for the first time and diverse segments of the society, with the result that it emerged as the second largest political entity in the 2013 general elections. It share of 33 seats in the National Assembly (comprising 26 general seats, 6 reserved seats for women and one minority seat) reflected its true worth considering the fact that the party did not put up candidates on 40 NA seats, it had made no inroads in the rural Pakistan where all the elections are won or lost and it was only an urban based party.  His advent on the national political landscape with a bang, was a good opportunity for Imran Khan to make his mark on the Pakistani politics by contributing to the reform process in the parliament and presenting his own concrete and credible policy framework to bring the changes that he contemplated  with a view to enlist the support of the entire population  and wait for the next elections.

Regrettably that was never to be. The man looked in a hurry to reach the corridors of powers as amply demonstrated by his ‘dharna’ politics and deciding the national issues on the streets through confrontation with the government. His alliance with Qadri and invasion of state symbols in Islamabad and his daily pronouncements from the container that the umpire was about to raise his finger, lent currency to the conspiracy theory as corroborated by Javed Hashmi, brother of Shah Mahmood Qureshi and none other than the former Chief of Army Staff General Aslam Baig who in his two articles in the media claimed that the ‘dharna’ was a result of a conspiracy by some retired generals  which also had international dimensions, to topple the elected government.

Political analysts believe that his brand of politics has reinforced the impression that he was restive to grab power without caring about the legitimacy of means and that the PTI stood for disruptive politics rather than being a  flag bearer of change. The party is facing internal dissensions, its ideological workers have been sidelined and it is now dominated by traditional carpet-baggers, opportunists and turn coats from other parties. The report prepared by Justice (Retd) Wajih-uddin on the intra-party elections of PTI, is an eye opener about the scale of corruption within the party. But Imran Khan instead of taking recommended action against the identified individuals had the justice sidelined for all practical purposes. So has been Hamid Khan one of the founding members of PTI. The party now has become to be regarded as an entity for the status quo and the aura of harbinger of change about it as witnessed in its early days has evaporated in the thin air. These are the irrefutable realities.

Imran has wasted two and half years in finding a needle in the hay stack and pursuing his fantasies. He needs to come back to the world of realism. The existing realities are that the PML (N) is the biggest political force in the country enjoying legitimate mandate of the people and it has the right to be allowed to complete its tenure without any disruption and allowing the people to judge its performance in the next elections. That is how democracy can be strengthened.

Imran has actually betrayed the mandate of the people by not going to the parliament and representing their cause. He will need to go back to the drawing board and shed the extra baggage that he has accumulated over the past two and half years if he wants to resurrect his party and rediscover its revolutionary demeanour. As of now, the PTI has nothing to offer to the people to win their franchise in the 2018 general elections. That indeed is a big ask considering the fact that the PML-N government has had a good track record in tackling the formidable challenges confronting the country, especially its initiatives to eliminate terrorism and measures to revive the economy, with discernible positive results. And if the PML-N succeeds in tiding over the energy crisis before the elections, it would again be in an unassailable position to win the 2018 elections. Anybody contemplating and wishing to depose it would need to come up with a far more credible and concrete strategy designed to deliver to the people in a much better way than the PML-N.