With just a few weeks left for the PML-N Government to hand over power to the interim setup as a prelude to general elections, the three main political parties i.e. PTI, PPP and PML-N are raising the heat. Under normal circumstances this would be nothing anomalous, but immature young activists, some of who are harboring unrealistic aspirations and ambitions appear hell bent on fueling the temperature to a level where it generates violence. The recent incident in Karachi, where PPP hooligans destroyed the PTI camp, inflicting bodily harm to workers, is a manifestation of what is likely to happen at other places in the pre-election period, unless checked by respective Party Leadership, the Election Commission and Law Enforcement Agencies. Looking objectively at the incident, I am constrained to blame the PTI and their local leadership for creating a motive for this violence, by not shifting their venue elsewhere since PPP had obtained written permission from the local administration to use the place. Had this been done and egos set aside in a show of mature politicking, the damage to property and limb could easily have been avoided. The regrettable part of what happened is that the police on the spot stood by as the berserk PPP crowd set the PTI camp on fire, damaged vehicles and injured many PTI workers. Surprisingly enough, a demonstration of mature politics came from Bilawal Bhutto, who shifted the site of the public meeting, if this decision was Bilawal’s and his alone, then it was proof that Bhutto genes were alive and well in the young PPP chairman.
The animosity generated at Karachi raises a crucial question, when viewed with reference to projections and calculated speculations regarding results of the 2018 Elections. There is unanimous agreement that under the prevailing scenario, polls are more than likely to produce a hung Parliament. There is also consensus that an extraordinary number of independent winners might emerge out of the ballot box. This would imply that a single party may not be in a position to form the government. Political pundits are now predicting PTI to head the list with PPP a close second followed by the PML-N. My take on the expected result is a little different, wherein I see PTI and PML-N in a neck to neck race for the top honors followed by the PPP. Whatever happens, it will in all probability be a coalition that will rule Pakistan. Such a coalition between PML-N and PTI is currently off the radar, but a PTI – PPP understanding is something not outside the realm of possibilities. The question is, whether incidents such as that witnessed in Karachi and Khan Sahib’s public statements against Asif Ali Zardari to his charged following, will allow such an understanding between the two parties. And if such a coalition does happen, will it adversely affect and even irreparably damage Imran Khan’s credibility with his supporters.
So should the PTI endeavor to bring about a change of scenario, by dint of which it is able to form a government on its own or without the help of PPP? Some political pundits think that such a move is possible if instead of strategising on the coalition theme, PTI plans its political game based on weaning electable material from across the board. This will generate force multiplication in Khan Sahib’s ranks, while depleting his opponents’ strength. Such a move will keep the PTI vote bank happy and maintain their leader’s credibility. As this piece goes to print, around fifteen PML-N legislators from Southern Punjab have already announced their intention to join PTI, as living proof of what I am suggesting.
As I said earlier, it is the independent winners of seats that will tip scales in favor of whoever will ultimately form the government. It does not take rocket science to understand that the motivation that will make this happen. Nonetheless, this will be the best case scenario for Imran Khan and his party, which has, in spite of scathing and uncalled for criticism by its opponents, been able to bring about a sea change in land revenue, health and law enforcement departments of KPK. Visitors to this province seeking the truth may not see flyovers, underpasses, motorways or other concrete edifices, but will see reforms that have almost rooted out corruption and will profoundly affect future generations.
The writer is a freelance columnist.