Sharp Contrasts in PTI's Campaign: Vibrant in KP, Muted in Punjab
As the political landscape in Pakistan undergoes tumultuous shifts, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) appears to navigate contrasting terrains within its strongholds. While the party’s activities in the power hub of Punjab seem veiled in a “planned silence,” a fervent drive pulsates through the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) chapter under the stewardship of newly-appointed senior vice president Sher Afzal Marwat.
Amid attempts to organize corner meetings and worker conventions—albeit with minimal success—the PTI’s presence in Punjab appears notably subdued, leading to perceptions of the party lying low in the region.
In candid conversations, certain local PTI leaders from Punjab, currently in hiding due to apprehensions of reprisals, revealed their “underground” status amid alleged state attempts to locate and detain them. Reports of torture employed to extract information about fellow party members’ whereabouts have surfaced, underscoring the intense pressure faced by PTI members.
The party’s central spokesman, Raoof Hasan, who had been actively vocal until recent weeks, seems to navigate a different trajectory within the party. Despite assuming his position post the May 9 events, some reckon he remains detached from the faction held accountable for the violence post-Imran Khan’s arrest. Hasan’s outspoken stance on various issues, from Nawaz Sharif’s return to the Election Commission’s directives, contrasts with the relatively muted proceedings of the PTI’s depleted core committee, led by Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan.
In a recent discussion, Hasan asserted the party’s unwavering alignment with Khan’s leadership. However, he conceded the restricted access of party officials—apart from Khan’s legal team and family—to the chairman, raising pertinent questions about the actual influence and control exerted by Khan within the party’s affairs during his current incarceration.
Amid this narrative, the appointment of Sher Afzal Marwat, relatively unseasoned in political circles, to a key post within the party hierarchy hints at potential links facilitating his access to Khan in his legal capacity.
While some PTI members advocate for a bolder stance akin to KP’s spirited activism, others argue for a strategic silence in Punjab, awaiting a conducive time to escalate political activities. PTI Central Punjab Additional General Secretary Sardar Azeemullah Khan underscores this, attributing the perceived silence to a calculated move, shielding leaders and supporters from partisan governmental repercussions.
Raoof Hasan echoes this sentiment, emphasizing the party’s effective presence on social media, banking on digital platforms for outreach amid purported restrictions on mainstream media engagements.
However, seasoned political analyst Dr. Hasan Askari Rizvi questions the practicality of Khan steering day-to-day affairs from imprisonment. He discerns a divergence between the party’s assertion of Khan’s leadership and the pragmatic execution of strategies in his absence.
As Pakistan anticipates elections, the PTI’s narrative—balancing vocal social media presence and ensuring ground-level mobilization—reflects a delicate interplay between perception and electoral realities, with uncertainties lingering over the conversion of digital support into tangible ballot counts.