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
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.