That fact that the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) played fast and loose with its principles and promises shouldn’t come as a surprise anymore. Not only did the party take wild departures from its pledges and stances once it came into power, Imran Khan went on to term what would be called violations of campaign promises in most countries a hallmark of great leadership – unsurprisingly this is now the official party line.

With the latest move however, it would be easier if the PTI threw its manifesto out the window altogether and finally admit to the nation that it is hanging by the edge of its seat, making it all up as it goes along and doesn’t care one bit about what it might have said or promised before.

The decision by Punjab’s PTI government to backtrack from its previous claim of not utilising development funds through lawmakers, and allocating Rs100 million to each of its MPAs, is nothing short of a betrayal of the trust placed in the party by its voters. Criticism of the Pakistan Muslim League–Nawaz’s (PML-N) method of development through discretionary funds to lawmakers was a central theme of every PTI electoral rally. Furthermore, the promise not only resonated with the people, but with government officials and even the party’s critics who all wanted to end the practice as it encouraged nepotism and cronyism. How is the PTI different if it too doles out vast cash sums to its loyal MPAs?

The reason given by the party for this U-turn is disappointing to say the least. It seems that only after a few months the Punjab government has resigned itself to the fact that it cannot find consensus on the issue of local governments and hence will now revert to the old model of development.

The PTI, which was a loud harbinger of change and whose members wax lyrical of their leader’s “struggle” against all odds, should not be simply giving up at the first sign of determined political opposition to its policies. No legislation is ever passed without conflict and uneasy compromises, and structural reform takes years to come to fruition. If the PTI is going to throw its arms in the air and surrender after a few weeks of half-hearted effort then it bodes terribly for the rest of the term – its margins are wafer thin everywhere, and they will not get better.

Going to the IMF was mocked but it was ultimately understandable, the hasty backtracking over giving Afghan nationals citizenship was simply embarrassing, and the removal of Atif Mian from the EAC after bombastic defiance was deeply depressing – but this one takes the cake for being the most atrocious U-turn yet.