‘Change’ is a strong slogan; it coalesces all heartbreak, injustice and dissatisfaction into one monolithic emotion. It’s a net that gathers in it all forms of disillusionment, be it corruption, police activism, inflation, unemployment and virtually anything not up to scratch. With Pakistan embroiled in all sorts of problems this slogan cuts through all classes and ethnicity. It is a powerful slogan; motivating the politically apathetic and the activists alike. And for the energetic youth, still not jaded by the vagaries of life, it becomes a cause to fight for. Despite all this what this slogan does not give, is a clear destination and the path that needs to be taken to get there.

The PTI youth have gained a lot of notoriety over the years; educated, tech-savvy, and fiercely confrontational, it has dominated social media and is now getting a taste of street politics. Other parties have had support from the youth, the PPP Jiyalas come to mind, yet those were majority party workers from rural areas and the poor looking for salvation. PTI have managed to lure the reclusive middle class and the urbanites in numbers; a first. This is a positive development, yet the naive and belligerent behavior of many Insafians, dampened that feeling a bit. In the face of consistent and across the board arguments against their leader they remain resolutely unwilling to listen to logic. They have besieged journalists, social activists and politicians and anyone else that disagrees with their view with a consistent campaign on social media. So much so that a variety of derogatory terms have been coined for the PTI youth activists. Yet it is easy to vilify them however this is neither going to help them or others. Most of them are actually motivated by the injustice that they see. Their blind support for Imran khan is present because Imran Khan is perceived to be from a different mould from the other politicians. This class comes to the street not on the calls from their caste or promises of patronage; something that must not be lost.

What to do about their belligerence? Their aversion to facts and figures? The blame for this must lie fairly and squarely on their party leadership. When Imran Khan, their idol, rants on television and uses highly un-diplomatic, rude and violent language, what can you expect from his followers? The leadership has never tried to groom or educate, in fact it encourages smear campaigns on social media. Instead of vilifying them and discarding them, we need to engage in debate; the exercise encourages rationality. And secondly, the leadership must let go of the ‘victimhood’ narrative; as long as that exists, all opposition, neutral or otherwise, will be viewed as fundamentally evil.