Election fever in Pakistan


Pakistan is in election fever. Notwithstanding the final day and date have not been announced yet for the polling but according to constitutional requirement, a caretaker government will have to be set-up atleast ninety days before the set date. All three main political parties Pakistan Peoples’ Party, PML-N and PTI are claiming to get majority seats and to form the next government. Pakistan People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari believes his party has a real chance to return to power amid the split in the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and he was already discussing the agenda with colleagues to run the PPP-led government in the centre. According to informed sources, Asif Zardari was hoping to perform better in Punjab as the PML-N was facing split. Talks are on (with other parties) for seat adjustment to achieve the goal (a reasonable number of seats) in Punjab. PPP will contact the PML-N dissidents and other parties for cooperation in the general election. Over the weekend, Zardari said that he will be in the ‘driving seat’ after the PPP wins the general election, expected in July. Addressing a political rally in Nawabshah, Zardari said that he would assume the lead role and try to drag the country out of the crisis. The PPP Co-chairman claimed his party would even have won the 2013 polls if it was not ‘massively rigged’.
On Monday, the ruling PML-N was dealt with a blow as eight lawmakers quit the party. The dissidents also announced to launch a struggle to make south Punjab a separate province. Among disgruntled members, six of them were members of the National Assembly while two were members of the Punjab Assembly. The PML-N is also facing internal issues amid differences among senior leaders. In the 2013 polls, the PPP lost heavily and the low-popularity readings continued until 2017. The party, however, is once again looking to make a comeback in Punjab with a few encouraging rallies in the populous province – that decides who will rule the country in every general election. Apart from rallies, the PPP is also expecting some electable to join the party to win some share of the National Assembly seats that could put them in the race to form the government in the centre.
The PPP is optimistic that influential politicians – annoyed with the PML-N and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf – could join the party and strengthen its chances of performing better after a political hiatus. Zardari believes even 30 National Assembly seats from the 140-plus on offer in Punjab could give the party a realistic chance to lead a coalition government in the centre. PPP chief Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, however, has higher expectations and insists on even forming the provincial government. Bilawal’s optimism stems from successful rallies in various cities which he claims have mobilised the party workers. Punjab was once a stronghold of the PPP during the peak of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto but it slowly drifted away to the right-wing or pro-right parties. The PML-N has been firmly in control of the province over the recent past. The province, with a bigger population than all the other provinces combined, is effectively the ‘king-maker’ with scores of the National Assembly seats on offer.
PPP Secretary-General Syed Nayyar Hussain Bokhari claimed that the PPP will give a huge surprise in 2018 elections. According to him, in 2013 elections “on the one hand Taliban were after our blood and former prime minister’s (Yousaf Raza Gilani’s) son was kidnapped and on the other, the returning officers were overactive to defraud the elections in PML-N’s favour”. Opponents of PTI say that in the last five years in by-elections in Punjab, the PTI and the PML-N spent billions of rupees. “Jahangir Tareen and Aleem Khan spent money like water in by-elections. PPP says that the PTI and the PML-N have both made the election a very expensive exercise. The same allegation is levelled by last two political entities. Race is in full swing, now which party will win the elections and will be in a position to form the government, only time will say. Overall political situation is quite uncertain, just wait and see.