Let's start with a popular song of yesteryears, "I
beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden." Promises are easy
to make but hard to fulfil, particularly when they are as abstract and
general as the ones made by political parties, big and small, in the
The silent majority broke its silence to give a loud
verdict. It has made many a political pundits, who under-estimated the
deep anti-US sentiment at the grass roots, eat their words. The
Elections have helped Muthadda Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of five
religious parties, win 45 seats in the National Assembly and top seats
in NWFP and Balochistan provincial assemblies.
Despite the top third winner in the National
Assembly, the MMA now enjoys an immense influence as it puts it in a
commanding position either to be a part of coalition government amidst a
fractured mandate which has deprived any one party enough seats to form
a government by itself. Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP)
has emerged as the second top winner in National Assembly and has bagged
most seats in the province of Sindh, which falls much short of simple
majority to form a government.
On the other hand, Pakistan Muslim League,
Quaid-e-Azam group, has emerged as the top winner in the National
Assembly bagging 77 of the total 272 seats. It has also won most seats
in Punjab province — 128 out of total 297. Like PPPP, PML (Q) would not
be able to form a government without the help of other party/parties.
The fractured mandate, and the differences among the
top three winning parties — PML (Q), PPPP and MMA — thus makes the
situation highly uncertain about who would form the government in the
center and Punjab. The situation appears less uncertain in NWFP and
Balochistan where MMA would have a less difficult time to form a
coalition government — in NWFP MMA has won 48 of the total 99 seats
while in Balochistan it has won 13 of the total 51 seats.
The emergence of MMA as top winner in NWFP and
Balochistan and third top winner in the Centre puts it in a commanding
position as a powerbroker with influences at both the Centre and two out
of the four provinces.
It's time not to look at the outcome of the election,
which brought a large number of candidates from the religious parties,
from tinted glasses of outsiders who are trying to read it from their
own vested perspectives. Undermining the mandate will not only be
undemocratic but may also be disastrous. If the West has any qualms it's
its problem, no more no less. Moreover, failure to accept the verdict
would further polarize an already polarized people.
It's time to analyse the promises made by the top
winners in the election manifestos of 2002 irrespective of fact that
much of it talk about abstracts such as poverty alleviation, national
interest, foreign investment, employment, sovereignty, etc., etc.
Let's look at the salient features of the election
manifestos of the parties who have bagged the top cities allowing them
to influence the policy making whether they form the government or
happen to sit in opposition, a strong platform to influence the law
The top winner in the National Assembly, the PML (Q),
called by its opponents as the King's Party, has been particularly vocal
about cohesion between the government and armed forces. One of its
election promises also include providing farm inputs at subsidized rates
to the farmers, obviously as an attempt to lure the egalitarian
community in the bread basket of the country Punjab, where the party is
based. However, the party remains strangely silent about the alleviation
of poverty, an issue which is addressed by almost all of its other
The election manifesto 2002 of the PPPP pledge to
strive for an egalitarian Pakistan obviously to attract the masses in a
country which still remains an agriculture economy to a great extent.
PPPP's manifesto also include electoral reform package earlier released
by it and religious tolerance saying that beliefs of an individual had
little to do with the business of the state. The manifesto also talk
about eradicating the poverty by increasing social sector budget and the
annual development plan. It also deals with issues such as retirement of
debts and creating the employment opportunities.
The election manifesto of MMA promised enforcing the
Islamic laws and systems in the country and the end of US influence in
the region. It also promised to check the rising inflation level and to
create job opportunities with stress on education and health sectors.
The election Manifesto 2002 "Pledge with Pakistan" of
the PML (Nawaz), the government replaced by President Pervez Musharraf
three years ago, pledges to block military takeovers in future. It also
vows to put country on the path of democracy, self-reliance, prosperity,
economic development and elimination of poverty. In addition, it also
promise debating the defence budget, excluding the classified, in the
parliament and to limit the powers of the Military Intelligence to
security and counter-terrorism. It also promised to abolish the elitist
education system by creating equal opportunities, universal primary
enrollment by 2005, launching a movement to raise literacy rate to 75%
by 2010 and to spend 4% of GNP allocated for education by 2007. PML (N)
has won 13 seats in the National Assembly.
Muthahidda Quami Movement has bagged 13 seats in the
National Assembly and 31 seats in Sindh Assembly, which makes it second
top winner after PPPP in the province. MQM's manifesto calls for a new
constitution to award greater provincial autonomy according to 1940
Lahore Resolution. It also calls for an independent and non-aligned
foreign policy, allocating 5% of the GNP for education and 4% for
health, compulsory education up to 10th grade and free education up to
the primary level, 100% literacy rate in urban areas within 5 years and
cent per cent literacy in 10 years.