The shocking defeat of PTI candidate and federal finance minister Dr Hafeez Shaikh has surprised many analysts and political commentators. The reason is that they were expecting an easy win for Hafeez Shaikh from Islamabad Senate seat. The Prime Minister Imran Khan visibly looks upset over this defeat. He has expressed his anger in televised address to the nation.
Imran Khan continues to blame the opposition parties and especially former president Asif Ali Zardari for buying loyalties of some PTI lawmakers. It seems that PTI leaders including PM Imran Khan are not ready to accept the reality and factors that contributed in Dr Hafeez Shaikh’s defeat.
PTI need serious review of their political strategy and policies to recover from the recent setbacks. If PTI continues to blame the opposition for its own mistakes and wrong policies then it will miss the chance to correct its policies.
There is no doubt that the shocking defeat of Hafeez Shaikh is a big blow for the ruling party. This defeat has shaken the ruling party like a powerful earthquake. The ruling PTI will feel the aftershocks of this political earthquake in the coming days.
There are four major reasons of this defeat.
One- The PTI misjudged the mood in the party and ignores the growing discontent within the parliamentary party. PTI parliamentary party stand divided. There exist differences over government policies. Many PTI lawmakers are not happy over the rising prices of basic necessities of life and price hike.
The government has failed to control the rising cost of living and inflation. There are more than two dozen PTI members of the National Assembly which are not happy with the government. The poor performance of PTI government is another contentious issue within the party.
Some members of national Assembly who won the 2018 elections as independents but later joined the PTI has expressed their reservations and concerns in the presence of Prime Minister Imran Khan during the parliamentary meetings more than once. But PTI leadership ignored their concerns and criticism.
They are also not happy with federal ministers and advisors. They are complaining that some federal ministers and non-elected advisors and special assistants are not addressing their grievances. PTI needs to bring its house in order. Many lawmakers feel ignored and dumped since the elections. Even Prime Minister Imran Khan has no time to listen to their complaints and concerns.
Two- PTI made the mistake in picking up the candidate. Dr Hafeez Shaikh was a weak and unpopular candidate. It was an open secret that some PTI MNAs were not happy with Dr Hafeez Shaikh and his economic policies. Without taking them into confidence, PTI announced him as candidate.
When PM Imran Khan realised the situation and decided to intervene, it was too late. The damage was already done. The efforts made by PM in last few days did help to reduce the margin of defeat but failed to secure victory.
Three- PTI underestimated the political strength of Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani and political deal making of former president Asif Zardari. The combination of strong candidate and smart political play outmaneuvered the ruling PTI. Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani is a seasoned politician and enjoys good relations with different MNAs from South Punjab. His relations and political connections helped him to reach out to many MNAs of different parties. As a Prime Minister, he accommodated many opposition parliamentarians. He was accessible for parliamentarians and used to attend the parliament sessions on regular basis.
On the other hand, Dr Hafeez Shaikh hardly interacts with parliamentarians. Hafeez Shaikh has no experience of electoral politics and known as an arrogant technocrat. His personal attitude also made many parliamentarians angry. He paid heavy price of his non-political attitude.
The PTI seems under serious pressure for the first time since coming into power in August 2018. The perception is growing that PTI is not capable to handle the political pressure without the active support and help from powers that be. The events from Daska bypolls fiasco to defeat on Islamabad seat are indicating that there is something seriously wrong with PTI approach to deal with difficult situations.
The Yousaf Raza Gilani’s victory has strengthened the political narrative of PPP which argued to take the road of parliamentary struggle instead of resigning from the parliament. The strategy to participate in bypolls and in Senate elections proved correct. PPP leadership has proved that it is possible to defeat the PTI in the parliament.
Four- The perception is growing that PTI leadership is not capable to manage political matters without the active help and support of establishment. PTI leadership had been struggling with its political management for a while now.
From Daska bypolls to open ballot case, PTI failed to judge the situation and act according to the situation. PTI has faced one embarrassment after the other.
In the early days, the party leadership had ‘outsourced’ much of this political management to establishment. Left to its own, PTI could not have saved Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani from the vote of no confidence. The defeat of Dr Hafeez Shaikh has exposed the political vulnerability of PTI if left alone.
PTI also underestimated the combine strength of opposition parties. PTI was comfortable when the opposition parties were disunited. But once they forged unity and formed PDM, they become formidable force.
It is important for PTI to learn lessons from this defeat and review its strategy. Otherwise it will continue to make mistakes and provide opportunities to PDM to take advantage of these mistakes.
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *