Pakistan’s political parties are under immense pressure as they are required to make early and correct decisions about party tickets in the coming elections. Party leadership is facing all sorts of pressures from party workers from internal and external quarters to award party tickets to their favourites. Traditional parties are prolonging the process till the very possible end to avoid any likely defection of opportunists particularly in Punjab. The province of Punjab historically holds the final say in elections, due to its large population and absence of nationalism.

This dilemma of Punjab politics has traditionally been a political divide within its boundaries based on cultural and economic factors. The geography of the province is such that it rules out any cultural unity in the province. Economically, north is more dependent on foreign remittances and services primarily in military and civil. The voting trends there have been predominantly right leaning.

The arrival of PTI, with its right wing political approach, has by default filled the space resulting in unnecessary delay in ticket awarding, as no one wants to put their money on the losing horses. They have attracted the educated middle class thus rocking the vote bank boat for regular political parties. Situation is somewhat similar in central Punjab where right leaning trends have been dominant with industrial and agricultural based economy and huge conservative middle classes automatically qualify as either PML or PTI voters.

South is a little bit different where land holders are still a vital factor. There are opportunist land lords, Sardar, Pirs who themselves are parties and have their own individual following. The diversity of culture and political realities makes Punjab a very interesting and tough pitch for political parties to bat on. If your shot selection is not right you may end up getting bowled or caught at boundary line. If we look at the other three provinces the situation is quite different .There is no such issue of awarding tickets except on very few seats. Culture based nationalism leaves little space to maneuver. The situation is not challenging for religious parties either, since their followers are all religiously motivated and not political, hence leaving little space for defection. All eyes are on Punjab particularly central Punjab.


Australia, April 20.