By the guessing game going on PML(Q) and PPPP are going to emerge as two leading political parties



Oct 07 - 13, 2002


With only three days to go for October 10 general elections, the political parties are finally in top gear to muster support of the voters. Despite all that, however, there seem no political wave or election fervour among the masses who, mainly in the urban areas, still seem disinterested in the ongoing exercise. The 2002 general election have been reduced to a local contests in a bigger municipal constituency where local elite have made alliance for not any political ideology but for consideration of self preservation.

As the third round (of polling) comes closer, the electoral scene is not yet very clear. The irony of the situation is that no new leadership has emerged, despite the void created by the absence of Bhutto and Sharif. Even the religious right and its combined front, MMA, have failed to capitalise on the widespread anti-American sentiments. This is strange to note that the election in Germany are won on the issue of Iraq and biggest protest rallies are being staged in Europe against the American war designs, it has not figured so much in the election campaign in Pakistan. Perhaps, this is the first election campaign in Pakistan that remains so much apolitical, and closer to non-party 1985 elections, despite the presence of so many issues that no election campaign could have imagined in the past, except for the 1970-election. But the parties seem to have failed to exploit them to their advantage.

The fate of these elections has been termed, by most experts, as one that is surely going to swing the pendulum in favour of the pro-government parties and at the expense of those who oppose the reformsit measures of the junta.

Falling short of terming the next parliament as hung, it would most certainly be a weak one in which no single party would inherit significant majority and this would have long term consequences on the structure and future of legislation process in Pakistan.

The fight on Oct. 10 will be mainly between pro-govt. and anti Musharraf parties. With few minor exceptions the political polarisation all over the country has taken place on that basis. This polarisation is so strong that the PML(N) and the PPP, which opposed each other tooth and nail during last one and half decade, have joined each other to oppose pro-Musharraf forces. No body could think of Jamaat-i-Islami-PPP friendship few years ago but now they have made adjustments in several constituencies. Even the ANP, which was earlier considered closer to Musharraf, has ultimately landed in the opposition camp by making adjustments with the PPP in NWFP just to avoid the allegation of being a pro-military party. Musharraf's Afghan agenda has pushed all the religio-political parties to a joint platform of MMA and side with the opposition forces. The PML-Q, the PML-J, the PPP-Sharpao, Sindh Democratic Alliance (SDA) and Pakistan Millat Party (PMP) dominated National Alliance are pro-government political parties. PPP-Shherpao, NA and SDA have made adjustments with PML-Q in NWFP Punjab and Sindh respectively. The PML-Q and SDA have been established during Musharraf regime whereas PMP and PPP Sherpao were formed after 1997 elections. Chattha's Junejo League and NPP of Jatoi are two components of pro-government camp, which existed before 1997.

Like PML-N, PPPP and MMA the pro-Musharraf parties have also put candidates in several constituencies but there is an undeclared understanding among them that doesn't allow them to challenge each other's credentials.

Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) of Dr. Tahirul Qadri and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf of Imran Khan are the two new entities as they have never succeeded in sending any representative to any assembly despite one attempt each during last 10 years. Right in accordance with the fault line drawn above they were supporting Musharraf till recently. They left him only after their disappointment to get major share in the cake currently being baked in the election kiln. Otherwise, they are natural ally of Pro-Musharraf forces. Only because of this reason they have not joined Musharraf's opposition forces. They are also not acceptable to the opposition because of this reason.

By the guessing game going on here in Islamabad the PML(Q) and PPPP (PPP parliamentarians) are going to emerge as two leading political parties in Oct. 10 elections the national level but one of them is expected to win enough seats to form the government.