Sunday, October 7, 2012
Next Government Would Also be of PPP
October 6, 2012
By Saeed Qureshi
My assessment is that the next government, following 2013 general elections, would also be formed by the PPP in tandem with its present coalition allies. I base my reckoning upon the peculiar political culture of Pakistan and various compelling and inescapable factors that would bar other parties to be able to muster enough majority to come into power.
My studied argument is that the slots for the national or provincial assemblies are mostly traditional. These are monopolized mostly by feudal, big land lords, Sardars( tribal chiefs) , Khans( Pashto speaking notables), Pirs( spiritual or holy figures), clans( brotherhoods based on caste or ethnic consideration) or on family basis( like Chaudhris of Gujrat).
Then religious parties and sectarian conglomerations also partake some seats. No party can snatch a single seat from MQM in those constituencies of two major cities of Karachi and Hyderabad where it is solidly entrenched.
The ANP and partly JUI have their firm hold in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province (formerly NWFP). The ANP as the regional party always bags its traditional national and provincial assembly’s seats with hands down. The red shirt instinct never recedes or fades in the psyche of the Pathans loyal to the philosophy of Bacha Khan and his son Khan Abdul Wali Khan.
The religious outfits and groups are quite influential in certain areas of Pakistan and their victories in those regions are guaranteed. For instance JUI always wins certain traditional seats in Dear Ghazi Khan, Dera Ismail Khan, Mianwali and Baluchistan. Jamaat-i-Islami captures a few seats in Punjab and Karachi.
The devotees of Pir Pagara cast their votes in favor of those candidates that the spiritual chief recommends or favors. Same is the case with other shrine custodians and saints. PML ((Q) would also take its share of seats that it is destined to win. The mainstream parties: PPP and PML (N), as usual, will have the first and runner positions respectively.
The Pakistan Tehrik-I-Insaf (PTI) is relatively a new entrant into the demarcated political turf of Pakistan. Its leader is an acknowledged honest and upright person with strict moral codes and ethical standards to believe and follow. But that quality or trait is not enough for political point scoring, browbeating the rivals and taking legislative lead in Pakistan.
Imran Khan is a vibrant revolutionary and a passionate patriot but he is not a rabble-rouser as ZA Bhutto was who with his oration would sway and enchant the public rallies and meetings. A reticent, less raucous and a leader with diminished rhetorical skill may be a hero but would not excel his counterparts having long background in the political arena.
It would be utterly difficult for nascent party like PTI to defeat the traditional political parties in Pakistan and come out with a clear-cut victory to propel and advance its revolutionary agenda aimed at transforming the destiny of Pakistan and its inhabitants. It would be nothing short of a miracle and an unusual and extraordinary event if PTI emerges as a party with a count of majority seats to form the government either at the center or in any province.
PTI”s bank vote is limited and confined to zealous and motivated lot of youth, college students, or disgruntled Pakistanis who may be intellectually, academically or socially on a very high pedestal. But their number is not as vast as to vote the PTI into power. The agitations and uproarious protests and violent processions by the sentimental and emotional youngsters and educated or conscientious citizens may look impressive. But such street outpourings have never brought the Jamaat-I-Islami or the religious parties in power despite their being past masters in such agitational antics to mobilize the people and bring them to the streets.
There can be a possibility for the PTI to win some seats in Punjab both for the provincial as well as the federal legislature. That is if somehow both the PML (N) and PTI can join hands to contests elections in Punjab by sharing seats and supporting each other. With that arrangement, the plan and projection of the PPP to replace PMNL’s government in Punjab, after the 2013 elections can be thwarted. But PTI chief Imran Khan has ruled out such a possibility by announcing that that PTI will not form an electoral alliance either with JI or PMNL.
Let us now consider the post elections scenario for the PPP (Pakistan People’s Party).When the PPP chairman claims that PPP is going to take over Punjab also, it connotes and indicates that there must be some solid ground for a such a statement. He is not talking in the air or without some self-assured confidence. Now the question as to how the PPP can stage a return to power can be answered by taking various cogent and compelling factors into consideration.
First of all like other parties, PPP will retake and win its seats with an insignificant number to be lost. There is a probability that it gains more seats than what it obtained in 2008 elections. The strong indicator and plausible argument to support this contention can be found in the victory of Abdul Qadir Gilani. He won over his rival Mr. Bosan an equally heavy weight in the by-poll for the National Assembly’s seat NA-151 (Multan-IV), vacated by his father the former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani after being disqualified by the Supreme Court.
Despite a plethora of charges ranging from corruption to nepotism to inefficiency and incompetence, he won that seat. Same yardstick can be applied to other traditional seats that are unassailable or cannot be grabbed by other parties in the prevailing socio-cultural milieu of Pakistan.
As such the electoral strength of all the parties, by and large, would remain the same with minor alterations. The PPP would take maximum number of seats followed by the PMLN. The present coalition partners of PPP with their ensured quota of reclaimed seats would again join the majority party at the center and in provinces where possible.
Thus the existing paradigm of power sharing would remain intact in the new government. The same rigmarole with the Supreme Court would remain in play. The stringent accountability, rule of law, coveted dream of justice, removal of poverty, reinventing Pakistan and rebuilding its institutions would remain elusive for another five years.