Making and Breaking of Political Party Pattern

The people in power enjoy creating and dismantling political parties, and they are currently doing it once again with PTI.

The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), which condemned the coordinated assaults by its backers on military facilities and locations on May 9, continues to lose fresh members on a daily basis.

Both Fawad Chaudhry, a major figure in Imran Khan’s inner circle, and Jahangir Khan Tareen, a longtime confidant of Imran Khan who quit PTI a few years ago, are attempting to seize some of these defectors in order to create what many see to be another “king’s party.”

Those who are abandoning PTI are also being courted by the PML-N and PPP.

For those who have followed Pakistan’s politics over the past 20 years or more, even from afar, there is more than a hint of similarity in all of this.

Gen. Pervez Musharraf arranged so many defections between 2000 and 2002, first from the PML-N and subsequently the PPP, that he later amalgamated all of the rebels into the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q), which went on to become the government.

Similar actions are said to have been taken between 2012 and 2018, guiding numerous politicians linked with the PPP in particular and other parties generally to the PTI, which afterwards came to control the nation.

It is apparent that the PTI-affiliated politicians “are being subjected to the same ‘pressures’ that the military has used to engineer defections and resignations in the past,” claims Hassan Javid, a former political science instructor at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

However, he also notes in a recent string of posts that PTI “was always going to be vulnerable” to this kind of manipulation as a “party that was built on defections”.

According to him, the major goal of this form of political manipulation has always been to allow the ruling class to influence the results of elections by persuading strong, electable politicians to switch parties.

His claim is supported by electoral data that he has gathered and examined. It demonstrates that between 1990 and 2008, 60% of all politicians who changed organisations before the next general election were successful in winning one of the top three positions in the polls.

Imran Khan’s new disagreement with the military’s involvement in governance has resulted in an important turning point in Pakistani political history, according to Michael Kugelman, head of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Centre. This has put the armed forces on the back foot in a manner it hadn’t experienced in years.

But historically, such political engineering has only sometimes been practical. He takes into account that while the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)’s political clout was so thoroughly destroyed that the party “has become a shadow of its former self,” the two major created dynastic parties, the PPP and PML-N, have maintained their dominance despite recent divisions within the PML-N.

He feels that the major politicians’ degree of malleability and the severity of the pressure applied to persuade them to bend determines how successfully parties are formed and broken.

He asserts that PTI is yielding in response to coercion so swiftly because “there are indications of threats to harm family members, including children, of PTI leaders.”

According to Lahore-based journalist and analyst Muhammad Badar Alam, the military’s efforts to curtail popular political figures and parties with sizable support bases have barely and transiently been successful.

He asserted that the reason why their political fortunes changed was solely due to the perception that they had been wronged.

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