The Tehrik-e-Insaf’s (PTI) performance in the Pakistani elections in 2013 defied many of the predictions made during its election campaign. Imran Khan, the leader of the PTI, was hailed as having the potential to sway voters away from other well-known contenders and become Pakistan’s next prime minister. What factors led to the expectations being disappointed? Why was Imran Khan unable to live up to the hype?
An overview of the Imran Khan PTI’s performance and projected outcomes
The PTI swept Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the provinces, garnering 34 seats, but fell short in Punjab, where voters make up nearly 60% of the population. The PTI performed poorly across the board, winning only 24 seats in Punjab compared to the 214 seats won by the PML-N. PTI won 28 seats in the National Assembly with 17% of the vote.
This year’s PTI performance is unquestionably better than 2002 and 2008. In 2002, it had little effect on the electorate, and in 2008, it abstained from the general elections. Since then, the PTI has organized numerous youth rallies and mobilizations, which were meant to be advantageous to the PTI.
The PTI put on a spectacular show in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the ruling Awami National Party (ANP) was its main rival. Before the elections, the Tehreek-e-Taliban targeted secular parties like the ANP with violence, which caused it to lose and helped the PTI win. Thus, the PTI has been deemed the best viable alternative in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, plagued by militant attacks and the Taliban insurgency. The Pashtun majority in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was also drawn to Imran Khan’s Pashtun ancestry.
The integration of social media, the party’s vehement opposition to Pakistan’s US alliance, and promises to cease American drone strikes in Pakistan were some of the messages intended to resonate with the public. Social media, in particular, was thought to mobilize PTI supporters. One of Pakistan’s most popular websites was the PTI. Twitter and Facebook were widely used to guarantee votes. Because of the reduction of the voting age to 18 in 2002 and significant youth mobilization, Imran Khan was predicted to have an advantage over the competition. According to last year’s Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, Imran Khan has a 70% approval rating. Thus, the PTI’s prospects were bright.
Imran Khan’s campaign-related injuries a few days before the election and the outpouring of support were also expected to aid the PTI’s victory.
Why did Imran Khan and the PTI fail?
Social media was Imran Khan’s strongest suit. Social media has undoubtedly become a potent democratic instrument in recent years, but it has played a tiny part in motivating electorates. One example is PTI. Pakistan has one of the lowest Internet penetration rates in the world, so few people there have access to it. Few of them vote or have the right to vote, and only some of those who can make judgments about elections participate in political debates. Given these facts, the PTI’s failure was caused by getting caught up in the potential of social media.
As a result of its obsession with young voters and social media, the PTI was unable to connect with Pakistan’s grassroots, for whom social media holds less significance.
Another factor is that Imran Khan never presented a pledge or a plan to assist Pakistan in overcoming its economic failure. This problem and the PTI’s failure were made worse by Imran Khan’s inexperience as a leader. The circumstances that helped PTI win in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa couldn’t produce the same outcomes elsewhere in Pakistan. Nawaz Sharif’s appeal as a capable businessman who would relieve the people of Punjab of their economic woes led to his victory in crucial Punjab.
Imran Kham violates the demo ban and tells Sharif to resign, sparking riots in Pakistan.
As the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf opposition party’s supporters attempted to make their way into the politician-turned-apartment cricketer’s home in Islamabad for a rally he had organized for the previous evening, fights broke out.
Following the violence, Mr. Khan declared he would proceed with the scheduled “million man march” in the capital on Wednesday to oust Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Mr. Khan claimed he had no fear of being arrested.
He remarked to Mr. Sharif, “Even if you throw me in jail, I’ll come back to lead rallies against you.”
He said that the cops were preventing him from leaving his home.
The military city of Rawalpindi, Karachi, and Lahore, the seat of the eastern Punjab province, all saw clashes between Mr. Khan’s followers and the police. Police apprehended numerous Tehrik-e-Insaf activists all around Pakistan.
Since his family members were identified as owners of offshore bank accounts in leaked financial data from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, public pressure on Mr. Sharif to resign has increased.
Despite stating that he would be subject to an investigation to demonstrate that he and his family were not implicated in corruption, Mr. Sharif, currently completing his third term as prime minister, has refused to resign.
A panel will hear the case involving Mr. Sharif’s family’s offshore accounts of judges chosen by the top court the following week. One of the five petitioners that asked the court to investigate the scandal is Mr. Khan’s party. The highest court has requested that Mr. Sharif responds to the accusations against him.
Mr. Khan organized months-long protests in Islamabad in 2014 to pressure Mr. Sharif into resigning due to alleged national election rigging in 2012. In response to a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar in December that resulted in 150 deaths, mostly children, the former cricket star decided to halt his party’s protests.
But compared to its weak and insignificant showings in the previous election in 2002, the findings clearly show a rise in the PTI’s performance. Imran Khan is also being blamed for the increase in voter turnout, as the younger generation is more excited about the elections. The party has become one of the most significant opposition parties.
Even though social media couldn’t propel the PTI into being the big winner, it has helped the PTI make promising advancements. But the PTI’s electoral performance validates that predictions can easily be proved wrong in Pakistan. The larger message is that developing countries should not overestimate the possibilities of social media until it penetrates deep into the roots of their rural populations.