elections_2013 PakistanThe recent political development is, indeed, spreading dark clouds around elections 2013 and there is uncertainty whether or not elections 2013 will be held on time. Some of the forces do not want to see that democratic process strengthens because it is a threat to their power. Sometimes, they move the Supreme Court and sometimes they invite sleeping dogs like Tahir-UL-Qadri to increase unrest in the country. However if the above assumption proves to be untrue and elections are held on time then it is another issue who will win general elections 2013. Will there be any radical change even if fair, free and transparent elections are held?

It has never been easy to predict accurately results of elections in any country but some speculations can be made keeping in view current political conditions, the current performance of the government, future political expectations, national political psyche and approach of the nations. Nevertheless, the current government in Pakistan is democratically elected but democracy is still not has strong roots in the country. The Pakistani people are neither accustomed to democratic norms nor adapted to them. Nor understand they really the importance of voting. Unfortunately, Pakistan has inherited political culture in which feudal, rich, industrialists and resourceful contest and win elections; people of Pakistan have been following the political culture of pre-partition. Political leadership has neither strived for to change the political culture even after independence because it does not serve their interests. Callard (1957) wrote, “In Pakistan politics is made up of a large number of leading persons who, with their political dependents, from loose agreements to achieve power to maintain it.” He further stated that Pakistani politicians are not scared that they would be punished at the polls for their inconsistencies and tendency of changing parties and sympathies (Callard 1957). From the period of pre-partition, politicians are habitual of changing political affiliations and changing sympathies less from conviction and more for vested personal interests, which they claim that their actions are in the larger interest of the nation; of course they present Jinnah as a role model who also changed his political affiliations until he became the sole authority of Muslim League. The major reason for departing from the parties is temporary disagreement or lucrative deals that are offered by the other political parties. Another reason that democratic norms have not strengthened is, Pakistani people have not experienced continuous democratic process before and after the partition; consequently democracy has never passed the stage of toddlers. Keeping in view our political culture, it would be folly to expect a significant change of faces in provincial and national assemblies in elections 2013 unless there is a major upset.

Pakistan has a multi – party system and there are so many small and big political parties that it is not easy to count them. Small parties have never won a significant number of seats in any elections but become a source of upsetting the election by dividing the voters. However, at the end of the day, big parties form the government, mostly in coalition. Since 1988, Pakistan Peoples Party and Muslim League (Nawaz) have been considered major and most popular parties, especially in the politics of the center. Even in elections 2002 under the Musarraf’s regime, Peoples Party emerged as the leading party but Musharraf did not accept the result and formed a Muslim League (Q) and handed over the power to the second grade political leadership. In elections 2013, Peoples Party and Muslim League will still be considered leading political parties of the country. The both parties will play significant role in central and provincial elections. Other parties like the Muslim League (Shujaat Group) Awami National Parties (ANP), Jamiat-I-Ulema Islam (Fazal-ur-Rehman group), Jammat-e-Islami and Muhtida Quami Movement (MQM) will be treated as supporting parties. They will largely play role in provincial elections, except winning a few seats in the national assembly. This election will be a situation of ‘make or break’ for many political parties, especially for supporting parties. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will also play a game of life and death in elections 2013; it is the only party, which has potential to emerge as a third political force and cause major upset in the elections.

If there is no major upset, Pakistan Peoples Party will remain in power at the center as a senior partner of the coalition, which they form with small parties and independent candidates. Pakistan Peoples Party may be winning more seats than the last elections. The situation at the center can change if Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Insaf performs well in national general elections but without very much influencing the position of Peoples Party. They will change the situation mainly by capturing the seats of Muslim League (Nawaz) and Muslim League (Shujaat) in Punjab and Jamiat-i-Ulema Islam (F) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. However, it does seem to be possible that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf could have a clear cut majority in the national assembly to form a government. If Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf performed well in the national elections, the likelihood is that they form a coalition government with Peoples Party.

Punjab province will most likely not be dominated by the Muslim League (Nawaz) especially if Imran Khan Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf performs as they claim in provincial elections. Peoples Party will perform better than the last elections. Tehreek-e-Insaf and Peoples Party have a good chance to rule the Punjab province with other small parties and independents. Who will be leading Punjab very much depends upon the performance of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Muslim League (Shujaat) will be the major loser if free and fair elections held in 2013.

In Sind province, major loser will be MQM, especially, if constituencies are delimited in Karachi. Muslim League (Nawaz) will improve its position in Sind but will not be determining factor. Pakistan Peoples Party will again emerge as a major party of the Sind and they might be able to form a government without the support of MQM.

Awami National Party and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will form a coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Instead of Jamiat Ullmae Islam, Jaamat Islami performs better in elections. Muslim League (Nawaz) and Pakistan Peoples Party will almost equally share the number of seats.

In Balochistan, independent candidates will outclass the political parties. After winning they will join different parties as they did in the last elections. It is likely that they join the party who will be ruling at the center. Peoples Party will have a key role in Baluchistan comparable to any other political party. The major loser of elections 2013 will be MQM, Jamiat Ulma Islam and Muslim League (Shujaat). Depending upon the performance of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Muslim League (Nawaz) can face serious setback in Punjab but they recover their position at the center by winning more seats from other provinces.

Political groups headed by Tahir-ul-Qadri, Dr. Abudul Qadir, Sheikh Rasheed and other small religious and non-religious parties will hardly make any impact on the result of national and provincial assembly elections. If they really wish to give a big dent to the Pakistan Peoples Party and Muslim League (Nawaz), the only chance they have to strengthen the hands of Imran Khan because he is the only one which can be accepted as a third political force among people. If Imran fails, there will not be a major change. The other factor can slightly dent the rule of established parties is a participation of independent candidates in elections 2013. There is also a possibility that a number of independent candidates will increase and they perform better than before because voters are more confused than ever to whom they give their vote; and in this confusion they might go for independent candidates.

In short, Pakistan Peoples Party will remain the dominating political party. Similarly, Muslim League (Nawaz) will continue playing a key role in Pakistan’s politics. Those who wish to send these parties in the background they must understand the only way to achieve the target is more democracy and not to roll back the process. The only quickest way to limit the role of the two parties dominant role is to pulling together all small groups behind Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Note: The writer is not affiliated to any political party.

Nadeem Yousaf

Uploaded on 05.01.2013