July 21, 2018
By Saeed Qureshi
The 13th General Elections are being held in Pakistan on 25 July 2018 to elect the members of the National Assembly for 342 seats and four Provincial Assemblies of Pakistan. It is being speculated that this time also the PMNL would win the elections. The PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaf) is believed to emerge as the runner up and second in the row.
So far 12 general elections for federal government have been held in Pakistan. After the birth of the new state of Pakistan in 1947, The first two elections were held in 1954 and 1962 which were indirect elections. In 1958 no direct elections were held. The PPP and PMNL each won four times. The 10th elections held in 2002 were won by PML(Q) and not PMNL.
The 2018 elections would be contested for 342 seats of the National Assembly and any party scoring 172 seats would emerge as the majority party. The paramount question is which party would emerge as the majority party and form the government at the center this time?
In 2013 general elections, the PMNL won 166 seats and this time needs only 6 seats to emerge as the winner party. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) won 42 seats last time and now needs 130 seats to win the 2018 elections. In 2013 elections, The PTI led by Imran Khan won 35 seats and therefore needs 137 seats to win the ongoing elections.
While it looks pretty easy for the PMLN to add 6 seats more to her 2103 tally, it might be a tall order and rather unattainable goal for the PTI or the PPP to win 172 seats for obvious reasons. The PPP doesn’t enjoy a good reputation because of Asif Ali Zardari who has several stigmas attached to his profile, known in Pakistan and abroad as well. The Current Chairman of the party, Bilawal Zardari Bhutto is still very young and is not a seasoned leader as his late mother Benazir Bhutto was and his illustrious grandfather Z.A. Bhutto had been.
It is not possible for young and inexperienced Bilawal to come on top beating other contenders who are in the domain of politics for a pretty long time. As such it may run as the third winner after the PMNL and the PTI. The PTI may well attain more votes than it did in 2013 elections. However, it might not be possible for a relatively younger party to take lead and come as the winner to form the government.
There are two potent factors that may help and spur or pave way for the PMNL to win the 2018 General Elections and form the government even for the fourth time. One most glaring and the paramount factor is the legal battle based upon his alleged financial corruption charges, laced with a visible bias of the judiciary against him and his party. The lodging of Main Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Mariam Nawaz in jail at this stage as a blessing in disguise and could prove as a boosting development for his party to win the elections. It is a general opinion that the superior judiciary has been in league with the PTI and the political opponents of Mian Nawaz Sharif. The judiciary seems to be exercising the judicial clout and powers to sideline Mian Nawaz Sharif clan and create conditions for his downfall and longish absence from the political arena of Pakistan.
But in politics what matters are the policies and achievements of the political parties. Nawaz Sharif may have been meddling in financial corruption and making stockpiles of wealth through foul and fair means. But to sideline him just prior to elections connotes to the people that the judicial activism was aimed at sidetracking him and make his party lose elections. It is being speculated that the path is being paved for PTI and its aggressive and anti-Nawaz chief Imran Khan to win the elections and assume power. It is being expected that when in power, Imran Khan would wash Pakistan off the rampant corruption and punish those hoarding wealth offshore and whose names have been mentioned in the Panama Papers.
Yet the judicial propensity for cleansing the political arena in Pakistan from corruption and foul play doesn’t give an impression that it was across the board. On the contrary it looks as if it was solely focused on Mian Nawaz Sharif, his party and the family.
As such the judicial onslaught is not serving its pristine objective. It is generating sympathy and support for Sharif family specifically and his party PMLN generally for being targets of both the judiciary and the PTI chief. Nawaz Sharif and his daughter are in the prison. Yet their party PMNL is potent to drive ahead and may score good number of seats as this party has been doing in the past.
Imran Khan could have won the elections if his attention and endeavors were not solely focused on maligning and condemning Nawaz Sharif and his other family members including his two sons. Had he launched a crusade against the moral and financial corruption and innumerable wrong doings in Pakistan and not against an individual or party, he would have swayed the people in his favor. But sorrowfully he built his political philosophy, mission and mandate exclusively riveted against Nawaz Sharif and his family which is a narrow agenda and looks like a personal enmity of Imran Khan with Nawaz Sharif and his family. Imran Khan would have prevailed had he raised a hue and cry and lashed out all the known corrupt individuals and families in Pakistan. He would have raised slogan of a new Pakistan with specific strategy across the board. Thus, his chances of winning the 2018 elections would have brightened and his victory would have been ensured.
Secondly, he should have used civilized language and convincing demagogy with logic, poise and dignified pastures. The example of such civilized and dignified behavior could be taken from the conduct of the founder of Pakistan; Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Mr. Jinnah seldom used indecent adages or filthy expression against anyone during his political crusade for creation of the Republic of Pakistan. Its is not the bravado, abuses and blames that are helpful in political battles. Instead, the elections contenders ought to lay out a clear agenda and road map for rebuilding Pakistan and strengthening nation building institutions. Imran Khan’s aggressive foul-mouthing was zeroed in on Nawaz Sharif, his party and family, thus exhibiting a kind of personal bias and enmity.
Imran Khan is aggressive by temperament. He needs to scale down his exuberance, the level of lethal ridicule and compelling tendency to take thing for granted. He would have a brighter chance to win the next general elections in Pakistan, if such a fundamental and positive transformation comes about in his behavior, personality and outpourings. But by that time much water would have flowed down the rivers. However, in the meantime and till the next general elections, he can play a very productive and vigorous role as the leader of the opposition. That would be possible if PPP doesn’t emerge as the runner up party or majority opposition party in the July 25 elections in Pakistan.