The by-elections on the eight seats of Punjab last week have provided a good opportunity to every major party to assess its position and worth for the voters before the general elections in addition to galvanising political activity in the City.

By obtaining seven seats with considerable lead over the PPP, the PML-Q and the PTI, the PML-N has not only given a good account of itself but has also come out of the pressure which the PPP was building on it through Asghar Khan case. Now the PML-N is playing aggressive politics and postures a sure winner in the upcoming general elections.

The results of the by-polls in Punjab have been highly disappointing for the ruling PPP, while its coalition partners, particularly the PML-Q, is strongly realising this fact to decide its future course. The PPP has set eyes on the Punjab in the next polls and if the party did not seriously take stock of the present worrisome situation, the time to come may be even more difficult for it.

Sources say that the PPP leadership has set to find out the flaws and shortcomings in the December 4 polls, and in the repair works, it may roll many heads from the Punjab governor to downwards. The PPP Punjab leadership is trying to erase the disgrace of defeat by leveling allegations of poll rigging on the PML-N but so far it has failed to move the Election Commission and the Supreme Court to seek action on these charges.

The by-polls were also a test case for the Election Commission to ensure transparent, fair and free general elections. Although no casualty took place during the polling day yet media screened the scenes of clashes, firing, open display of arms, and some other discrepancies that all made for a blatant violation of the code of conduct.

As to victory of the PML-N, it has set a pace for the party to derive more strength, popularity and acceptance for the electorate. The greetings extended to the PML-N by PTI central leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi signifies that the N-League is going to have a commanding position in the coming days as such joining hand with it at individual or party level will be worthwhile.

The PML-N is terming the PPP defeat a result of its corruption and bad governance which the people do not want anymore. The N-League will use it as lethal weapon to demoralise the PPP voter in the general elections.

The N-League wants to cash in on the landslide victory for the general elections, yet it has to cover a long journey wherein completion of its development projects under the Punjab government, overcoming internal differences particularly at Sindh level, as well as to keep the party ahead of bradary, dynastic, and feudalistic politics fall in the way.

Almost all the candidates who won by-polls on N ticket relate to rural constituencies and were the near kins of those who had lost seat due to dual nationality. However, it has to be seen which candidates win the general elections on personal talents and the party manifesto defeating braderism and dynasty to prove the actual worth of the party.

The impression has begun to re-emerge in the PML-N that the PPP may incline to defer the general elections to get more time to prepare. Or it may resort to widespread transfer and postings of the officers to level a favourable ground before the polls. The PML-N insiders say, the party has also worked out a strategy to counter any of the moves.

The PML-N is also consolidating its grip in Sindh and Khyber PK. For Sindh it has formed a five-member committee to negotiate seats adjustment with Sindh United Party while talks with PML-F for the same end are also on.  The PPP failed even to protect its single seat in the by-polls while the overall turnout of the PPP voters was highly low. For the PPP Central Punjab President Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo by-polls was a crucial challenge after he had made tall claims of wresting seats from the PML-N. But he miserably failed. And now a big question mark stands against his name for the future performance of the PPP and his ties with PML-Q and the PPP workers for getting a wining combination.

Despite electoral alliance with the PPP, the PML-Q on its own concentrated on bradery and its vote bank and retained its seat in Narowal. Media reports say that both the parties are now weighing benefits of joint or separate campaign in the general elections.

Another jolt to the PPP has come from former political aide of Benazir Bhutto, Naheed Khan and her spouse Safdar Abbasi who have declared an all out war against President Zardari terming him and others of his associates strangers to the PPP. Under the banner of Bhutto Shaheed Workers Movement they have mustered support a number of PPP ideological leaders and workers who are abandoned or were cornered or had differed with the PPP policies under Zardari.

The Movement celebrated Foundation Day of PPP at Aiwane Iqbal where the speakers posed questions as to why not the murderers of Benazir Bhutto and Murtaza Bhutto have been tracked down so far despite five years to the PPP rule. A large number of PPP workers attended the function which outlines their number growing in the time to come and creating further cracks in the PPP vote bank.

Rai Hassan Nawaz, former twice district Nazim Sahiwal and currently a leader of the PTI, contested NA-162 seat as independent candidate, but he lost to the PML-N candidate in this Sahiwal-cum-Chechawatni constituency. The PTI tacitly backed him in the election and in the constituency he was recognised as PTI candidate by the voters. Hassan was a potential candidate. His defeat reflects of a better position of the PTI than the PPP but still not matching with the PML-N.

Observers say the graph of the N-League will further go up as the election approached near and the PTI will be actual rival of the PML-N in this belt in the upcoming polls.