Editorial | PML-N Must Acknowledge It Failed Its Supporters
There is a time for pedestrian shenanigans and poorly considered positions which seem expedient in the moment. But it must pass. The PML-N’s Khwaja Asif is currently at the stage of political life where a politician needs to think very seriously about their legacy. But his pronouncements in the aftermath of the PML-N’s capitulation on the Army Act Amendment Bill suggest otherwise.
To be sure, the PML-N leadership are under a great deal of pressure. They must explain their lack of political options to the more ideologically-driven and politicized members of their urban support base – who are asking tough questions on social media and on the street. Any justification for their position (or lack thereof) on recent developments would be subjected to scorn from those who expected more of the party.
A person like Khwaja Asif is, indeed, between a rock and a hard place.
In such a situation, blaming “the people” should be last on the list of options that he would consider. And yet he picks precisely that path. He takes the position that Pakistani people are not interested in fighting for their rights – and even contrasts this with the resistance faced by PM Modi’s administration in India.
Khwaja Asif’s reasoning here is both circular and cruel.
Circular because to the observer, it seems as though his party first decided that a politics of confrontation and agitation is not suited to its support base, then blamed the people for a lack of confrontation and agitation.
Cruel because it was his own party and others in the opposition who had taken the lead in offering a narrative to de-legitimize Naya Pakistan – loudly proclaiming that the government was “Selected” and so on. It was the PML-N that the opposition looked towards for leadership in crucial moments. The party was able to extract Nawaz Sharif from the grasp of the PTI government, but could offer little more in the way of opposition politics.
Having failed to bring its own narrative to fruition, it is only understandable that the PML-N would want to extricate itself from a situation where politically-minded people are beginning to see it as no different from PM Imran Khan’s own way – that is, a politics of convenience. But if it wishes to distinguish itself from the current ruling party, perhaps the PML-N could begin by avoiding the “blame it on the people” card, for which partisans of the PTI often took flak in years gone by.