Last year has been an exceptionally successful one for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Since January the party has been on a phenomenal upsurge, both organizationally as well as in popularity. As Imran Khan would say, 'Insaf (PTI) is an idea, whose time has come," and indeed it has. The year that began with a grand rally in Faisalabad will hopefully end in 'never seen before' kind of a grand rally and a jalsa in Karachi at Mazar-e-Quaid. The high point in this year, and perhaps in PTI's 16 year old life was a historic jalsa at Manto Park in Lahore. Some say they haven't seen a crowd as big, as energetic and as upbeat before in a political gathering. I not only endorse the view but I can proudly say that I too was part of history that was made on October the 30th in front of Minar-e-Pakistan. I'll always cherish the memories of the day.
Since the last few months, before and after the jalsa, whole nation seems to be gripped by a debate of whether PTI should welcome politicians who have been in other parties before, of whom some have even also enjoyed ministerial and other government offices, into party's fold or not? Many argue, especially those within PTI, that party that we should not. Their argument, which does make sense, is that these people are only joining PTI for electoral gains that party's popularity can potentially offer them and do not have much to do with the philosophy of the party. Some argue that they are joining PTI, literally in flocks, because they've been ignored or sidelined by the party they were previously in. But the strongest argument of them all is that how can Imran Khan bring about the 'change' he has been promising with these old horses who have been part of many of the previous regimes he has been so vocally criticizing and opposing. All these are tough questions to answer.
Theoretically, yes, I endorse all those views. But on the other hand isn't this mass support what I and all my fellows in PTI have been working for? Now that we are getting it, we suddenly don't want it. Lest we forget, PTI is a political party, not a Gymkhana style exclusive club where rights of admissions are strictly reserved for a certain type of people. Will we tomorrow, come elections, won't accept votes of those voters who have been voting for other parties before? What if a thief wishes to vote for a PTI candidate? Will we ask him not to? Besides, accepting someone in party is one thing, and giving him a party ticket in elections is another. Doesn't mean that if an ex-MNA, who is allegedly corrupt, joins a party he'll most certainly get a ticket as well. As Imran Khan has said PTI will be represented by new, young faces everywhere it practically can. But party also has to keep the biradri based, largely uneducated rural politics in mind as well if it has to make it big in the parliament. To achiever a victory in elections, party will have to field a mix of new and old faces where majority, in my opinion, must be faces that have stuck it out with the party through thick and thin.
These are going to be extremely tough decisions for Imran Khan and party leadership to take, but I'm sure right decisions will be taken. Those decisions which will have a popular support, both, within the party and outside.