PTI’s membership enrollment strategy has entailed opening the door to what Imran Khan calls the “electables,” i.e., people who know how to ‘work within the system and can avail it to their advantage.’ This shows that the party considers coming into power more important than commitment to the program that has helped it become a popular party. However, once in power, if the PTI fails to implement its quintessential program of building a just society, (as opposed to emphasis on building a gateway society as has been done during the last eighteen years) PTI’s own tactics of undermining a government’s ability to entrench itself by staging prolonged dharnas and protests could come back to haunt the PTI government itself.
The PTI will therefore have to implement a radical shift in domestic and foreign policy, when and if it forms government. It will have to prioritize welfare, education, healthcare and better working conditions for the low wage worker. It will have to end unquestioned cooperation with west’s war in Afghanistan.
Pakistan has been built as a gateway state for the last eighteen years. Big investment in infrastructure, roads, bridges, gated housing schemes for the rich, etc., have been made. There has been little or no investment in the poor. The PTI will have to shift the emphasis to a welfare state, while also continuing to build a gateway economy. It will have to maintain a pro Pakistan tilt while welcoming foreign investment. It will have to create better regulatory frameworks for foreign direct investment, build transfer of technology paradigms, legislate for phased withdrawal of foreign technology and gradual transfer of technology to domestic labor force. It will have to implement labour laws more effectively. It will have to think outside the box to empower the poor. It will have to reform the police and implement judicial reform.
Whats more, it will have to hit the ground running after it forms the government post 2018 electoral victory. The circumstances in which it is coming into power do not give PTI the luxury of a long honey moon period.
Leaders often fail to implement their campaign promises. For IK, such failure can create political conditions that disallow the PTI to complete its term in office. Imran Khan’s wealthy and politically experienced opponents are waiting in the wing to destabilize PTI’s first government if it is formed post 2018 election. (There is a general belief in Pakistan that PTI will form the next government). Plans have been made and funds may already have been set aside to disallow PTI a full term in office. Imran’s chance of thwarting such plans is greater if he is seen to be sincerely working to enact the change whose promise earned Imran Khan a popular following.
Imran’s ‘slogan’ of creating a just society must transform into ‘determination’ to create a just society. He will have to cut down cost of government and attack (not just tackle) the high level of debt incurred by his predecessor. He will have to prioritize provision of better healthcare facilities to the middle income and the poor, better education facilities, better housing and shelter to the have nots. He will have to create enabling conditions for implementation of labour laws to improve work place environment for the low wage earner, and generally undertake projects for the betterment of common people’s lives in Pakistan.
PTI’s performance will need to be akin to that of the PPP after it came into power post 1970 election that took place after a mass uprising against General Ayub in 1968 to 1969. In foreign policy, IK will have to move away from the west and closer to regional powers, Russia being the foremost among them as the previous governments have not been able to establish the kind of relationship with Russia that is need of the hour.
PTI’s ability to last its full term in office, not to mention its survival at the helm of politics in Pakistan, depends on its ability to put its own stamp on Pakistan’s politics as soon as it forms its first government. The more IK changes direction for the better, and is seen to be changing direction for the better, the greater will be his ability to prevail over the opposition, should the latter decide to get restive.
Tabdeeli must follow PTI’s electoral victory, if PTI is to remain stable as it forms national government. The last three governments carried on more or less the same age old policies despite the fact that Pakistan’s strategic environment was undergoing rapid shifts. The PTI will not be able to afford to continue with the status quo conditions after coming into power – and coming in to power at the federal level is a prospect that seems certain.
It took PTI decades to succeed as a party. The time it has to prove its metal in office is far shorter. Success will depend on who the PTI government has on board!