Now that the Senate elections are out of the way, it is worth going over what exactly happened. For months, analysts had been making statements about what was about to unfold and finally it is here.
The largest party in the Senate, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), was beaten by an opposition that somehow managed to come together at the right moment.
On the surface, it seems normal in a democracy for opposition parties to do that to the largest party to pry away the top posts.
To start with, what we saw was a culmination of efforts that began in Balochistan when the provincial government of Sardar Sanaullah Zehri was overthrown.
That was the first warning sign for the PML-N that something was up, and they were caught off guard. As much as they would like to blame the powers that be, they dropped the ball and paid the price.
Next, Asif Ali Zardari coming together with Imran Khan and the usual suspects from small parties was a milestone in opposition politics because, for once, after a long time, we witnessed the opposition realise that the bigger target was the PML-N and not each other.
Supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) have been coy over how their parties, who normally bash each other, suddenly aligned for the same goal.
But the bottom line is, what other choice do the PPP and the PTI have? For the Senate elections, they did what had to be done and reaped the benefits.
Well, mostly the PPP reaped the benefits but the PTI was able to show its willingness to play ball, which is an improvement for them.
The question is: is this what democracy looks like where the largest party in the Senate does not get the top slot? And the answer is: yes, this is exactly what democracy looks like.
Even if you are the largest party in the Senate but cannot get enough votes to back your candidate for the top slot, the opposition gets to take a shot. All other parties went up against the PML-N and won.
We can debate about how votes were bought and sold, but then we can also go over how that has happened in every Senate elections in the last three decades.
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What should be worrying the PML-N instead is that, if the opposition parties were to cut a seat adjustment deal for the general elections, it would create all sorts of problems for ruling party.
But fortunately for the PML-N, that is not going to happen, and so they will gloss over their mistakes and instead use the Senate elections as further evidence of everyone being against them.
The thing is, this should not be a shock to the ruling party. If you are the largest party in the country, of course every other party is against you. How naïve do you have to be to assume that somehow everyone else will close shop and go home?
Furthermore, the new chairman Senate and deputy chairman Senate are both individuals who are businessmen. They do not have hard political leanings. They are in this for their own benefit.
Yes, they both lean PPP, but factually speaking, what can the Senate really do to damage the day-to-day functioning of the federal government?
Plus, let’s not forget that for the last six years or so, the PML-N has not held the Senate and it did not stop them from running the federal government as they pleased. Neither were the governments of Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Balochistan impacted in any way.
The fact is, while the Senate defeat is a setback, the PML-N had some indication that this was coming and it was evident when they nominated Raja Zafar Ul Haq. They laid down their arms before the fight even began.
While this does make a great add-on for the narrative of a grand scheme to scuttle the PML-N, the elections result was mostly a self-inflicted wound.
What we should rather be concerned with are the general elections and how the political parties will form alliances. I realise that the PTI and the PPP fans refuse to even consider the idea of seat adjustment at this stage, but what other choice do they have?
The PML-N is a force to be reckoned with in Punjab and parts of KP. They can bag enough seats in Punjab, KP and Balochistan to win a simple majority, if the opposition operates without alliances.
Purchasing 10 to 20 votes is doable but purchasing millions of votes is not. The PML-N has been waiting for the opposition to come together as one force because it helps the narrative that Nawaz Sharif has built since his ouster.
A curated win in Senate means nothing when you get wiped out in general elections, and this is what the opposition parties need to think about.
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