AN election is primarily about numbers — the seats won and lost and the votes polled and counted. More than a week after polling day, the ECP has released its official count. There are few surprises as the earlier results had already provided a fair idea of the mandate. The polling numbers have merely added some detail to an already clear picture. Indeed, the official numbers released underline the extent of the PML-N’s victory — the party improved its performance in terms of votes garnered in 2008 by over 100pc. Similarly, the numbers emphasise the disaster that was the PPP on May 11 — the party that ruled the centre and three provincial set-ups has now been reduced to the third biggest party in the country.
The numbers also reveal how one province, Punjab, dominates the country’s electoral arena. The PML-N won primarily from Punjab and ended up as the biggest vote earner and with a simple majority in the National Assembly. Fortunately, the parties that came second and third in terms of votes polled represent Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh respectively and will ensure the federation’s representation in the National Assembly.
But more importantly, an election also conveys the needs of the electorate and their judgement of governments. And the voters have sent a clear message. The wholesale rejection of the PPP in Punjab and of the ANP and the PPP in KP proves that the people want their governments to deliver better living standards and security — ideological rhetoric and democracy-strengthening legislation is not enough if villages and cities are enveloped in darkness and unemployed residents face terrorist attacks. Indeed, if the people of Punjab voted for the PML-N in the hope that it would deliver on electricity and inflation, it can be argued that the residents of KP voted for parties that promised them peace. This was the promise that the ANP made in 2008 when Swat and most of Fata were in the control of militants and the former promised to negotiate and to end the fighting. The ANP failed — for many reasons beyond its control no doubt but fail it did. And five years later, the people once again voted for those who promised to end the violence and bring peace. The PML-N and the PTI should note this as they rejoice. Five years pass far too quickly and if they waste the opportunity given to them on May 11, they will face a similar fate.