Imran Khan
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Raja Waqas Shabbir |

In recent times, image rebuilding has been a problem for Imran Khan. Despite losing NA-120 by-elections, PTI did make inroads into the N-leagues heartland, and it looks encouraging.

Khan must reach out to voters and explain them audaciously on the victim card played out by N-league. He must cash the success of billion tree Tsunami acknowledged by independent foreign observers

Nevertheless, brand Khan still faces immense challenges. It was evident from a lukewarm response in Azadi night Jalsa in Liaqat Bagh. Though heavy rain played a spoiler, it was not a trademark Khan show despite a considerable advertising campaign. In Jhelum this week, leadership was unable to convince the two local rivals to stage a workers convention together. Imran had to address in a couple of places to appease the egos of the local leaders.

Khan’s alliance with Sheikh Rasheed cannot be deemed fruitful for PTI. Sheikh Rasheed has been relentlessly trying to mobilize people against N-league. It doesn’t matter how aggressive & effective Sheikh Rasheed has been against Nawaz, his rants and offensive rhetoric has not been appealing to all.

Read more: Why Imran Khan must NOT become the Prime Minister of Pakistan

He has a past which only people suffering from selective amnesia like Imran Khan can forget. Reasons put forward by Khan advocating Sheikh Rasheed selection for premiership could be nothing more than a self-harming exercise, which is repeated quite often by Khan.

It may strike the chord with very enthusiastic & die-hard PTI fans but not across the board within PTI, let alone swing voters or neutrals.

Khan must also erase the illusion created of being a stooge of the establishment. His controversial comments during a sit-in when he infamously said, ‘he’s waiting for the Umpire to raise a finger’ was a clear indication towards GHQ to do him a favour

It was an incredibly questionable decision which raised doubts on Khan’s decision-making ability even among his staunchest followers. Why would one want an unnecessary attention & controversy? Presenting anyone descent from the party such as Asad Umar would not have created such apprehensions in the minds of the voters.

Going forward, Khan must avoid such self-harming & suicidal decisions otherwise premiership will remain a distant dream.

One of the weakest links in the PTI is the striking similarities between the previously unworthy & failed leaders of PPP & the crusaders of change assembled under Khan’s leadership.

One of the prime examples is of Fawad Chaudary. During Panama case proceedings, he was in the limelight. Lately, he has been a poster boy for PTI. Him being an extremely outspoken & controversial figure, always unaware of his boundaries, with little sense of judgment, cannot be considered a long-term associate based on his past antics and endeavor.

Read more: ECP rejects disqualification refrences against Imran Khan & Jehangir Tareen

It’s not easy to digest his transformation from being a worst of critics of PTI to a crusader of change. In the long run; he will be more of a liability than an asset for PTI.

People believe such mischievous and playful leaders are need of an hour, especially when confronting the ridiculous & at times unbelievably pathetic arguments from equally tainted rivals.

PTI cannot realistically accomplish the wanted, unless, it gets equipped with the required persona, pre-requisite to attract the educated middle-class voters which have abandoned the politics of Khan after he started the policy of electable

Imran Khan in a recent TV interview praised Fawad Chaudhry for achieving significantly in the party in quick succession on merit. If merit is such to improve party’s tainted image, then PTI should stop expecting much from next polls.

A remedy is to boost the image by re-distancing the party from people like Firdous Aashik Awan, Fawad Chaudhry, & Raja Riaz. Ex-PPP brigade creates unwanted confusion in the minds of the voters.

Perplexed individuals end up questioning the stance of the party on meritocracy & Imran’s actions against traditional rhetoric on status-quo.

A common myth is whoever comes under the leadership of Khan, automatically gets purified. It is complete nonsense. People can switch loyalties and leadership but their morals remain the same. Imran has no magic wand to clean them.

Read more: Will Imran Khan face cybercrime charges? Why PMLN Govt is targeting…

PTI cannot realistically accomplish the wanted, unless, it gets equipped with the required persona, pre-requisite to attract the educated middle-class voters which have abandoned the politics of Khan after he started the policy of electable.

PTI’s government in KP has delivered on some fronts such as transforming the culture of the workforce in police, education & health sector. People have openly demonstrated affection for work done by PTI.

Khan’s rhetoric is credible, upon seeing the practical improvisation of change envisioned in ‘Naya Pakistan’ manifesto. But, the problematic area where PTI is yet to deliver is infrastructural development.

Imran Khan in a recent TV interview praised Fawad Chaudhry for achieving significantly in the party in quick succession on merit. If merit is such to improve party’s tainted image, then PTI should stop expecting much from next polls

Public perception in Pakistan is largely dependent on the visually witnessed development. PTI lacks on this front. Nerveless, in election year budget, the provincial government has promised a rapid Bus Transit corridor for the provincial capital at the cost of Rs 53 billion. In four years, before the election-year budget, the government of KP was unable to use the larger portion of the budget which was subsequently transferred back to the center. It seems that going into such developments in the election year is too late a move. Why were such steps not taken a couple of years before this?

Read more: Imran Khan – KPK & Sindh to get a “surprise”

The balance between the infrastructural and institutional development lacks in KPK. Also, to stay in power, one must know the psyche of the public.

Eye-Catching infrastructural projects are critical to re-election in Pakistan.

Politicians play with the perception of people. Sticking to agenda is great, the transformation of work culture is indeed a commendable job, provision of services in government institutions is laudable but failing to build eye-catching projects may prove costly for PTI.

The biggest battle PTI faces is the mind meddling through electronic & social media.

Gulalai’s damaging allegations, a nervy immediate reaction of PTI leaders in its aftermath is not encouraging.

One of the weakest links in the PTI is the striking similarities between the previously unworthy & failed leaders of PPP & the crusaders of change assembled under Khan’s leadership

One can certainly question the attention of the Gulalai on her contradicting stance, incredibly nervy defense & failure to consult court, questions her authenticity. Nevertheless, initially, she was successful in creating doubts in the minds of swing voters & those who take the political games on its face value. But, her unwillingness to withdraw from PTI’s seat & recent below the belt remarks have questioned the authenticity of her remarks

Khan must also erase the illusion created of being a stooge of the establishment. His controversial comments during a sit-in when he infamously said, ‘he’s waiting for the Umpire to raise a finger’ was a clear indication towards GHQ to do him a favor.

He may have expected the establishment to intervene. It was wishful thinking, but one gets bemused as he categorically stated in TV program a few weeks ago that Nawaz was declared a winner in 2013 general elections with establishment backing him vigorously. If this was the case, how could he expect umpires to intervene, considering they were instrumental in paving the way for Nawaz?

Read more: Imran Khan explains to ECP that he had borrowed money from…

Whatever the reasons surroundings his declaration on the establishment, he must clear himself otherwise voters will never trust him.

Khan must acknowledge his mistakes.

In Jhelum this week, leadership was unable to convince the two local rivals to stage a workers convention together. Imran had to address in a couple of places to appease the egos of the local leaders

Khan must reach out to voters and explain them audaciously on the victim card played out by N-league. He must cash the success of billion tree Tsunami acknowledged by independent foreign observers.

His opponents advertise vigorously on their finished projects which works exceedingly well for them. Advertising using taxpayers’ money is not PTI’s policy, but PTI must reach out to its voters in KPK & especially in Punjab to make a case for the next elections.

If PTI wishes to be a serious contender in the coming elections, image rebuilding, re-branding & re-innovating to attract masses is indispensable now.

Khan must re-vitalize PTI’s approach; otherwise writing is on the wall.

Waqas Shabbir is a Derby Business School graduate in Finance, currently working as a freelance writer. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect GVS editorial policy.

Waqas Shabbir is a Derby Business School graduate in Finance, currently working as a freelance writer.

1 COMMENT

  1. Khan must also erase the illusion created of being a stooge of the establishment. His controversial comments during a sit-in when he infamously said, ‘he’s waiting for the Umpire to raise a finger’ was a clear indication towards GHQ to do him a favor.
    Why Khan should erase illusion once you yourself are calling establishment stooge illusion. Khan is one who criticised General Musharraf , General Kayani role in 2013 election even then you call him establishment stooge. He believes on Allah Almighty and explained it later on. He praised General Raheel that doesn’t mean he was waiting for Army support. If you look at Past people supported by Army don’t take 21 years to came in to power.

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