Election is a game of numbers. Stakes are high and this time again things aren’t going to be as simple as they are apparently. Delay in electing a new setup is next-to-impossible. It will benefit none; neither the army nor the politicians. International forces won’t be receptive either.
This time, two orthodox arch rivals ‘PPP and PML (N)’ are in a position to come into power. PPP’s sugar level is down and it is mostly relying on personal auras of its candidates. PPP’s dancing horses do not influence voters. It has traditional base in Sindh and no significant change is foreseeable. The ten-party alliance against PPP in Sindh is a brainchild of Pir Pagara’s Pakistan Muslim League (Functional). This communion comprises religious and nationalist hardliners though it’s a fact that nationalists never won even a single seat in Sindh.
PPP is not going to be routed completely in the Punjab, initial calculations suggest. Seat adjustments with PML (Q) and open contests may not be fruitful, political pundits opine PPP voters won’t ever go for PML (Q) candidates and vice versa. The PPP’s slogan of new province in South Punjab still remains a myth that fails to survive reality checks. President Zardari has been prohibited by the courts from making appearances in PPP’s election campaigns. His 24-year-old son, Bilawal, the party’s chairman, is also bunkered in Karachi.
Apparently, PPP has realized that it won’t make a big impact this time. That’s why serenity prevails among the PPP’s rank and file. But President Zardari has, time and again, proved to be an astute political guru in the context of Pakistani politics. He should have multiple aces up in his sleeve. At present, he is waiting for the rolled dice to stop so he can analyze his numbers and do his gimmickry again. We have witnessed that the outgoing rulers always face an acute plunge in popularity. Nevertheless, if the PPP scores a century in polls, the President will surely carve out a coalition government and the ‘char ka tola’ (the gang of four), as Shahbaz Sharif says, will rule the roost for another term.
There is no denying the fact that Imran Khan’s PTI poses a real threat to PML (N) in the Punjab. However, numbers game will be decisive on outturn. Higher turnout means fresh and enlightened youth votes, which ultimately will benefit PTI. A 2008-like turnout is not going to affect both PPP and PML (N) in a big way. The PTI has also defied Asfand Yar Wali’s ANP in Kkhyber Pukhtunkhwa. Religious groups might have a heyday on 11th of May. The biggest challenge for the ANP, however, is to motivate its supporters as red hats are scared of Taliban attacks while religious parties and PTI are less prone to such heinous acts.
Five years are lost in Balochistan as during this period a number of hilarious scenes were created. This time atmosphere is different altogether. Mainstream Political parties are weak, while Baloch nationalists, independents and religious groups are relatively in a strong position.
Altaf Hussain’s MQM, too, wants timely polls. It does not take election as a means of operation against it in urban Sindh, particularly Karachi. MQM fears right-wingers will be prioritized and some analysts believe that MQM is trying to reach a truce with the hardliners. MQM has its blood boiled over redrawn constituencies in Karachi. Jamat-e-Islami is active in this issue and that further infuriates MQM.
Last but not the least, the parachute landing of Pakistan’s former dictator, Pervez Musharraf, is a calculated move. The travails of his return from four years of self-exile furthered the humiliation of a person who once enjoyed absolute power in Pakistan. He faces an unprecedented situation in a country where the military has held sway for decades. This shows the determination of judiciary to hold him accountable.
One must not forget that Musharraf was a commando and he renounced his lavish life of London and Dubai purposefully. Why he is here, asks everyone? The answer is simple: Political economy is dancing frenziedly in polls and power game in Pakistan. Pervez Musharraf is here to broker a deal between the International forces and Pakistani establishment. He is here to act as a guarantor for the safe exit of US and its allies in Afghanistan. Former general expects power in return. However, the commando should have ensured safe exit for himself before landing in Pakistan. Otherwise, the nation will witness an unprecedented saga to pass it on to the next generation. The political history books will need a rewriting as well.