Pak polls: Post election reflections

Published May 13, 2013 01:00am

Supporters of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader Nawaz Sharif, celebrate the victory of their party a day after landmark general elections, in Lahore. -AFP Photo

Well the elections of 2013 are over and the people of Pakistan have made their decision. The PML-N tiger has come roaring back to life and its chief Nawaz Sharif has made the greatest come back since Lazarus to become elected as prime minister for an unprecedented third term. Having won a clear majority in the National Assembly and in Punjab’s provincial Assembly, the PML-N will now hold talks with other parties to form a coalition government at the centre which they will lead.

In a conciliatory tone he has said;“I appeal for all parties to come to the table and sit with me and solve the country's problems.”

The PML-N have won but other parties have cause to celebrate and a moment to pause and reflect upon what went wrong and how they lost their way with voters. With the exception of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the other provinces seem to have been immune to the slogan of ‘Naya Pakistan’ and more or less maintained the status quo.

The Pakistan Peoples Party received a drubbing in the polls, despite having maintained their stronghold of Sindh, their poor record of governance in the previous five years repelled the electorate. The PPP have gone from holding 124 National Assembly seats to 33, as per unofficial results. The party has some serious soul searching to do, but must never be dismissed as dead and buried. They may be relegated to being mostly a provincial party now, but the PPP still has plenty of mojo and have overcome greater setbacks then this in their history.

The Awami National Party, who probably suffered more then any other party at the hands of extremist attacks, will now need to rebuild themselves after having been completely decimated in the elections. The ANP won 13 seats in the National Assembly and 48 in the KPK Provincial Assembly. They now have only a single seat in the National Assembly and have been completely wiped out at the provincial level, according to initial results. Like the PPP, they may have tried to play the sympathy vote for electoral success, but it didn’t work and a bad performance record by an incumbent government has left them virtually without any representation in the elected assemblies.

Balochistan is still an anomaly. The situation there remains murky and will be interesting to see what will happen within the coming few days. Voter turnout was reported to have been at a minimal in the Baloch dominated areas, while the Pakhtun areas have had at least 35 to 40 per cent voter turnout. Whatever happens there, one can only hope that it works out for the best in that troubled and alienated province.

Many things need to be closely examined from this election, what many people thought would happen did not. Factors that people thought would be a game changer seemed to be more hype then facts on the ground. The peculiar politics of each province maintained the natural status of things, which a number of people mistakenly thought would be shattered. Many analysts said that the PML-N would take the majority of seats were right, but were off the mark in terms of the clear mandate the party has received. Others thought the Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf's channeling in on the youth vote would turn things on their head were wrong. The PTI ‘tsunami’ did affect KPK, but failed to even alert the tsunami warning system in the other provinces. The PTI chairman Imran Khan, has alleged rigging in the polls, despite having accepted defeat in the elections. He has also said that the PTI will sit in the opposition benches in the National Assembly.

But the PTI and its supporters should not lose hope. Enthusiastic and energized supporters of the party came out in large numbers to vote for their party and have made an impressive achievement by winning 30 seats from zero in the previous National Assembly, according to unofficial results. The only time anyone from the PTI sat in an assembly, national or provincial, was in 2002 and that was the PTI chairman himself. They now have the majority in KPK and could form the government in the province. If they take power in KPK, they would have a golden opportunity to perform and set an example for the rest of the country. If they manage to turn things around and bring genuine peace and stability to KPK, then that would also be a genuine achievement.

Pakistan’s democracy is by no means perfect nor is it efficient, but letting the democratic process go through its natural mutation will only bring dividends for the people of Pakistan. One thing that we proved in the previous five years was that despite the suicide bombings, terrorism, bloodshed, loadshedding and all the other difficulties we went through, the process was not allowed to get derailed. The system will cleans itself up through the process of time. The United States, United Kingdom and other great democracies of the world did not get to where they are now by simply walking down a road showered with rose petals. They stepped on many many thorns along the way, before the path finally cleared out. It happened to them and it will happen to Pakistan as well.


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Comments (17) Closed




Danial
May 14, 2013 07:11am
With video evidence of Rigging, I think you are over-rating maturity to hide corruption.
Taha
May 12, 2013 08:46pm
Why hasn't the author highlighted the issue of mandate being stolen from people in several constituencies? Why hasn't the author shed light on the clear proof of rigging recorded?
na-maloom afrad
May 12, 2013 08:50pm
Good article, although I wish that the PTI and PPP following would put pressure on the leadership to atleast enter into talks with the PML-N about a possible coalition.
Moiz
May 12, 2013 09:29pm
Congratulations to Pakistanis for achieving a back to back Civilian government. Now, if only, you guys can stop killing each other, and mistreating your womenfolk, you can join the league of caring humans.
M Aslam
May 14, 2013 03:01pm
Rigging is done only where people rejected false promises of Imran Khan. In the province where Imran Khan win, people went for vote after taking bath with milk therefore no rigging in KPK. What a moral character- Imran Khan.
jaffri
May 13, 2013 01:52am
I think PML (N) needs support of other parties in the national assembly to modify constitution and to curtail powers of president. This is the main reason they are talking about co-opration of all parties including MQM and PTI
MOHAMMAD
May 13, 2013 03:04am
WELL WRITTEN. WHAT WE NEED IS UNITY, SINCERITY, TOLERANCE AND EDUCATION. MAY ALLAH GIVE US HIDAYAT...AAAMEEEN
Mortal
May 13, 2013 06:25am
Well Said... It is great begining
Shafqet Ahmad
May 13, 2013 09:04am
Free and fair elections are farce in Pakistan. There was massive poll rigging in Punjab, Sindh, and Karachi. Imran Khan should start a massive civil-disobedience campaign. People are with him. That is the only way effect change. People will not allow corrupt politicians to stop tsunami with be-imani!
Deendayal M.Lulla
May 13, 2013 09:51am
The new government must aim to rebuild the economy. The recently concluded elections prove that Pakistanis want ,to the obvious displeasure of Talibanis,a strong civilian government which can deliver the country from its myriad troubles. Besides endemic corruption,frequent power cuts,and the perennial threat of being subverted by religious fundamentalism,the country is staggering on the back of a torpid economy. It is clear that the voters,especially the urban middle class,want to empower a leader who can fix the economy,root out corruption,and rescue the country from hurtling into chaos. Sharif,with his conviction in free market economics,can restore the nation's crumbling economy by focusing on job creation and industrial development.
Saira
May 13, 2013 11:44am
Oh Please!!! Stop this blame game! PTI has lost the elections and they should accept the defeat with at least some dignity. There was rigging in Karachi fine, but saying that the overall elections were unfair is a lie. Rather than urging your former captain to start a civil-disobedience or any such nonsense, ask him to show some sportsman spirit by congratulating the winning party.
RA
May 13, 2013 03:13pm
I am a Pakistani in UK, everyone I have spoken to in Karachi speaks of personally seeing rigging when they went to vote which makes me think that the election result in Karachi at least does not represent the public vote. It seems there was every attempt to frustrate the voters so they don't vote. One one hand people are encouraged to come out and vote and on the other hand they can clearly see that their vote makes no difference when rigging is rife. It will be hell of an effort to excite them again. Also looking at the TV channels, media is very reluctant to talk about the parties involved in rigging (expecially in Karachi). The voting system needs modernisation in my opinion. It needs to be electronic and fool proof. It certainly merits investment / improvement given the controversies we see every election.
jaffri
May 13, 2013 03:52pm
whenever a party looses elctions in Pakistan, it alleges rigging instead of conceeding defeat. I think political maturity is still lacking in Pakistani political parties. Admiting defeat and wowing to win more votes next time by playing a role of constructive opposition will be better stategy for PTI and PPP
Riaz
May 13, 2013 09:48pm
Yes rigging in Punjab, Sindh and Karachi....this election is no way close to free and fair... PTI should go for their rights
peter
May 14, 2013 03:36am
Its fascinating to me, an outsider, to see elected Prime Minister a man who was convicted of serious crimes; defied the countrys judiciary & is "suspected: of corruption - & still to be elected! Amazing.
kameshrao
May 14, 2013 09:21am
well democracy is democracy despite several comments i congratulate pakistani cousins in coming in large numbers to vote, rigging, ask indian politicians yes three cheers to you all from across the border
Akram
May 14, 2013 10:20am
I think the author is rather unfair to PTI, Nawaz Sharif may have held lahore, but PTI has won at least 2 seats there, and also won in Pindi, Nawaz has been routed from pindi. It has also won seats in Karachi, so to say the other provinces are immune to naya Pakistan is not correct.