Number game: Who will be the Future of Pakistan?
The outcome of 11th general election brought confusion all over the Pakistan. All political parties have rejected the election results by accusing deep state for stealing the people mandate to install pro-establishment puppet government of Pakistan Tehreek Insaf (PTI). PTI has appeared country’s largest party by securing majority seats national and provincial assemblies in July 2018 elections. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, around 370 thousand army personnel were stationed in all nook and corners of the country for peaceful conduct of elections. It was also one of the most expansive episode of elections as more than 22 billion rupees (PKR) were spent on it.
Before the election, caretaker federal and provincial governments were established and army was called to assist election commission of Pakistan (ECP) due to terrorism threats as non-state actors could attempt to sabotage democracy transition process. Some deadly and massive terror attacks were also carried out on political parties’ campaign. It is commonly believed that it was an endeavor to corner the Pakistan’s left-wing socialist and progressive parties as they were sidelined in previous election of 2013. Major political parties also blamed that state institutions and caretaker governing system have staged pre-poll rigging by using ‘lawfare’ as a weapon to secure the win of PTI. Even the rival parties has also alleged the intelligence agencies for political engineering in favor of blue-eyed Imran Khan, the chairman of PTI.
With all “ifs and buts” political parties went in the elections just to avoid and shadow of martial law and dictatorship. Data shows that the total number registered voters was 105.95 million with 59.22 male and 46.73 million female. ECP had set up 85,058 polling stations having 244,687 polling booths throughout the country. It has hired services of 819,119 polling staff from different government departments to act as presiding officers, assistant presiding officers and polling officers to conduct polls. More than 120 political parties enlisted with the ECP but 95 had fielded their candidates in the contest. Interestingly the members of some banned religious organizations also took part in the election of national and provincial assemblies.
The polling process started at 8am and continued till 6pm without any break. Within the polling time limits, those who were inside the premises of a polling station were also allowed to cast their votes. The mobile application of Result Transmission System (RTS) to send election results data to central database of ECP was introduced by the assistance of National Database Registration Authority (NADRA). As polling ended, media started manipulation as most of the TV channels broadcasted the biased reporting in favor of Mr. Khan.
As given time ended of polling and counting started, Pakistan’s mainstream parties, especially Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) raised questions over counting process by saying that their polling agents were forcefully pushed outside the polling booths. According to ECP code of conduct, counting must be started in the presence of polling agents. Candidates were not given a farm 45 which contains the election results while the online result application software RTS was not a successful effort on the eve of general election 2018 so ECP had failed to give results on mandatory time; 2am as mentioned in election act 2017. The delay in results increased confusion over disputed results.
Despite all this, election commission has announced official confirmed results on the evening of 28th July. The PTI enjoyed success across the country as it won 115 seats in the national assembly, PML-N taken 64 and Pakistan People’s party grabbed 43.
PTI needs 51 percent to secure government at federal level. Blue-eyed Khan is still in trouble to become prime minister as its party needs coalition government. All parties have rejected the election results except PTI and independent candidates. All parties’ conference (APC) demanded re-election, if not, they will not take the oath of the offices. Constitutionally, it is mandatory to elect Prime Minister within 21 days from polling day; that is 15th August.
In said scenario, PPP is the only hope to address the complicated political situation, as it is considered the mother of democracy; a party who’s leadership martyred to establish and strengthen democratic norms in the country. That’s why all anti-PTI/ establishment parties have offered premiership to the co-chairman of PPP, Asif Ali Zardari. Truthfully, Zardari is the heavy mandate seasoned politician of Pakistan as he returned to national assembly after completing the first peaceful transfer of power during his presidency from 2008 to 2013. He was the man who made history in the democracy of Pakistan. PTI has requested PPP to join coalition government, but Mr. Zardri refused to make political alliance with PTI. Surprisingly, the chairman of PPP, Bilawal Bhutto Zaradri during his press conference over rigged election announced himself as a strong opposition leader. He appealed to all political parties to be the part of parliament for sake of the continuity of democratic set-up.
The only positive aspect of current election is unmasking of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as emerging leader, not only for Pakistan but also for South Asia. Mr. Bilawal decided to raise rigging issue on floor of the parliament rather than on roads, also appealed other political parties to remain engage in parliamentary process
Another interesting element of Pakistani politics is a number game. All eyes are on Mr. Zardari; believed as master of politics and a king maker. Numerically PPP can easily make political alliance as all parties offered premiership to PPP to oppose the establishment.
Here is a possible scenario with number game of power play of Pakistani politics
PTI –led government Purposed Multi-parties government
PTI seats: 115 PML-N: 64
Independent candidates: 13* PPP: 43
Balochistan Awami party: 4 Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal: 12
Grand Democratic Alliance: 2 Balochistan National party: 3
Awami Muslim League: 1 Awami National Party: 1
Both political alliance are unable to form government as both needed 51 percent of the casted vote of Member National Assembly. In this scenario, following parties could have pivotal role.
Pakistan Muslim League: 4
Muttehida Qaumi Movement: 6
Jamhori Wattan Party: 1
*Pakistan political history depicts that successful independent candidates usually put their weight in favor of the party forming the treasury benches
At the time of writing this article, PPP to hold opposition benches in National Assembly. PTI has already captured mandate in KP assembly while PPP in Sindh, while Baluchistan will enjoy the coalition government and Punjab yet to be decided.