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.