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Editorial: PTI Inches toward Talks

The PTI’s apparent willingness for dialogue with the government is a positive step toward achieving much-needed political stability

by Editorial

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Incarcerated Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf founder Imran Khan this week indicated willingness for dialogue with the government led by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), a radical shift from his earlier stance of “only speaking to those actually powerful.” The decision followed observations by the Supreme Court urging the PTI to “resolve its issues in Parliament.” Does this hint at a return to “normal” politics and an abandonment of the PTI’s threatened “revolution?” Pundits believe the PTI has realized dialogue with political opponents is now its sole option, which if proven true could play a key role in achieving the political stability that the country has aspired to for several years.

For the PTI, pursuing the path of reconciliation would require a rethink of Khan’s traditional refusal to back down from a fight. Yet, with the party still reeling from the crackdowns launched after the May 9 riots—not to mention ongoing allegations of a “stolen mandate”—it must move past a narrative of victimhood and acknowledge the self-inflicted blunders that have led to this point. Khan’s belief in a “revolution” was built on misjudgments about how the military establishment would react to his provocations, leading to his current designation of persona non grata at the GHQ.

The prevailing view is that the PTI’s initial schism with the Army stems from differences over the appointment of the head of the ISI, with Khan overestimating his power as a popular leader and attempting to convert the popularity into a quasi-rebellion against the established state structure. This culminated on May 9, 2023, which the military remains unwilling to “forgive” despite courts appearing to believe otherwise.

The tragedy is that prior to the current impasse, Imran Khan’s uncontested popularity had proven his political validity and also found favor with the security establishment as it sought to sideline the PPP and PMLN. This zenith was lost, however, due to several blunders in both domestic and foreign policies, playing a large role in PTI’s ruination. To move past this, and recover lost ground, the party’s devoted workers must acknowledge the varied shades of grey that paved the road to Imran Khan’s political Waterloo so the mistakes are not repeated.

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