Well, the election has held, and it seems we are not going to have democracy for very long now. It is looking like a very dim possibility that Asif Zardari will be re-elected President, and if he is not President, if no relative of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto holds high office, how can we claim that the is democracy in the country? The PPP, from the leader of the ruling coalition, has been reduced to jostling with the PTI for the Leadership of the Opposition.
Actually, this seems to be the election in which the PTI started the transition of voters from the PPP, something it should have done. After all, the PPP voters have probably gotten tired of always losing in the Punjab. It has done a lot of losing, especially in recent times, to the extent that, if Mian Shehbaz stays as Punjab CM, instead of going to Islamabad as Water and Power Minister, he will not only win a third term, but risk sending both Khalid Maqbool and Pervez Elahi to oblivion in the history books as the guys who interrupted his grip on Punjab.
I suppose it depends on whether he thinks he can end loadshedding or not. Maybe he can, but the caretakers certainly could not. They kept the light going all Election Day, but on Sunday, the day following, again started sending the light. Whenever the Nawaz government goes, and go it must by 2018, loadshedding will still be a problem.
However, maybe someone should be asking why the effort of the caretakers, in making sure that power flowed on Election Day, can’t be repeated on other days. No one’s asking for power. Just an explanation.
However, perhaps the most noticeable thing about this election has been the rise of the PTI. It was perhaps too much to expect it to sweep, and its winning power in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is an achievement. But one supposes the vote didn’t have anything to do with Imran Khan’s fall. Though the fall was in Lahore, it doesn’t seem to have won him his seat here. Of course, the fall should have been declared a conspiracy (preplanned; all conspiracies are preplanned), and there have already been rigging claims by PTI leaders. PPP leaders have not yet made the claim, though perhaps they should. Otherwise, this would be the first ever election loss by the PPP if that claim is not made. They should claim that they would have set the world alight had the election been fair.
Well, if they had to set the world alight, hopefully it would not be like they did in their most immediate tenure. Or whoever lit up the LDA Plaza, with the result that 28 persons died. There was a school of thought which speculated about the destruction of LDA records, and records were destroyed, but they were not records of plots, but of litigation, and copies could be obtained from the courts.
Whether rigged or not, two things should be remembered about the elections. First, the turnout was very high, the highest since 1977. That helped the PTI to achieve what it did. It was also perhaps the most of Pakistan’s history.
The President has every reason to feel that the Pakistani people are ungrateful. He might not have any reasons, but he has every right to feel. After all, feeling (jazba) should count. However, that ingratitude extended to defeating the architect of the PPP’s energy policy, Raja Rental. I mean, Pervez Ashraf. He lost his seat. But he was probably not as unlucky as his predecessor, Yousaf Raza Gilani, who was not only not allowed to contest but saw not only his sons and brother go down to defeat on all national and provincial seats, but his son Ali Haider kidnapped just before the election.
One hopes that Ali Haider suffers no worse than the loss, and that he is released at once, and unharmed.
I’m not sure, but it seems that he wasn’t kidnapped to stop the election, even though militants seemed to feel that it was un-Islamic and made it not just the bloodiest campaign in Pakistani history, but perhaps the bloodiest Election Day ever, with about 50 killed. Pakistanis don’t seem to have agreed, so the turnout was the highest ever since the production of the ID card was made compulsory.
As usual, this election involved people losing. And for my money, apart from the Gilanis (who were stand-ins for Yousaf Raza), and Pervez Ashraf, the biggest loss was by Manzoor Wattoo. But if the PPP makes a comeback, so will he. And isn’t that what elections are all about? Making comebacks? So till that happens, Raja Pervez will go back to selling plots and renting out bungalows, while Yousaf Reza will go back to taking care of the shrine of Musa Pak.
The decline of the PPP is a sad thing, for that is the party that emerged from the 1970 elections. In future, watch for the people who switch from the PPP to the PTI. Though President Zardari may argue that his sister’s win in his late wife’s seat shows approval of his measures, indeed proves that people like a little loadshedding in their lives, will not find many takers.