Once considered an indomitable winning combination of political parties, the coalition partners of the former government, led by the PPP, are currently trying to negotiate a strong political headwind in their election campaigns.
Be it the PPP, MQM, ANP or the PMLQ, they are all facing some basic ground realities, which, speculate independent political observers, will damage their already minimal chances of winning elections.
The PPP is in proverbial hot water. Both its chairman and vice chairman are out of the election fray and President Asif Ali Zardari has also resigned from his position of co-chairman of the party.
It seems that the former ruling party is practically dragging its feet on the trail of a very happening election campaign.
Bilawal Zardari Bhutto, the young PPP chairman, is still a few months short of becoming eligible to contest the general elections. He will celebrate his 25th birthday in September this year.
Bilawal’s latest reported differences with his father and aunt, Faryal Talpur, who is currently running the party’s affairs, has also cast dark shadows over the election prospects of the party.
To add insult to injury for the party, Mr Bilawal's lack of experience, tender age and security concerns, all mean that he may not be able to make a noticeable impact on the outcome of the elections.
Others in the people's party's ranks include former Prime Minister and vice chairman of the party, Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was disqualified from contesting elections for five years in a contempt of court case, which had also cost him his premiership.
Although Mr Gilani has appealed against his disqualification, he will not be contesting the May 11 elections.
Similarly, President Zardari, who, of course, is the godfather of the party, has been categorically told by the Lahore High Court that as president, he cannot participate in the election campaign.
The party received another blow when the nomination papers of another former Prime Minister from the PPP, Raja Pervez Ashraf, who was made head of the PPP’s election campaign by the party leadership, were rejected by the returning officer due to his alleged role in the rental power project case.
It is still to be seen whether his appeal against the rejection of nomination papers with the election tribunal is accepted or not, but for now, he too will not be campaigning for his party with the stable moral ground required when entering any elections.
ANP: The Awami National Party (ANP), which has ruled the KPK in partnership with the PPP over the last five years, is also facing some daunting challenges in the run-up to the general elections.
The party has already announced that due to security concerns, its supremo, Asfandyar Wali Khan, will not be participating in the election campaign. The party lost one of its key leaders, Bashir Bilour, in December last year to a suicide bomber.
Other leaders of the party have also been attacked and some of its members have suffered deadly losses in the form of family members and close ones.
“Apart from the misgovernance in the province, which many believe will cost the ANP dearly in the coming elections, continuous on-ground insecurity to its leaders is also going to play a huge role in the party’s election campaign,” explained a local journalist. He further added: “Not only the ANP but other political parties also have to be very careful in running their election campaigns in the KP since Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has issues warnings to all of them against electioneering.”
PMLQ: Having lost most of its former lawmakers to other mainstream political parties, and a possible election alliance with the PPP still to be finalized, the party simply does not have much in store for the upcoming election campaign.
According to latest reports, the PPP and the PMLQ continue to squabble over the terms of seat adjustment. For example, right now there are many constituencies in Punjab province, including the NA-105, where Choudhry Pervez Elahi and Choudhry Ahmad Mukhtar of the PPP will be contesting elections against each other or both parties have fielded candidates.
Even if they manage to reach some sort of agreement and go into election making the best of each others' candidates, many predict that the real election battle within Punjab will be between the PMLN and PTI.
MQM: Last but not the least, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), has its own story to tell about how the party is being sidelined before next elections.
The party is up in arms for the past many months against the delimitation of constituencies in Karachi. It has also vehemently objected to voters’ verification in areas of its strength.
Though the party has challenged the ECP’s decision of the constituency delimitations, reportedly many in the party are of the view that the MQM should boycott elections.
The party is so perturbed over these developments that its chief, Altaf Hussain, has also proposed postponement of elections for some time to address all these issues.