LAHORE - General elections are gong to be held in the order of events than on the choice of the opposition parties led by PML-N, as their immediate holding now appears to be a far cry.
The demand for urgent elections too has lost vigour after the players on both sides of the political divide have begun to reconcile with the emerging situation.
This unfolding scenario is marked by by-polls on 10 vacant seats of national assembly on Feb 25, Senate election on March 2, appointment of election commissioner by the end of March, completion of new electoral rolls by May 25, presentation of national and provincial budgets in June, and onset of Monsoon season, with falling of holy month of Ramazan also in July-August.
However, the judicial factor cannot be discounted in the bigger picture. The SC is hearing the memogate and NRO implementation cases, while another high profile case of ISI funds - allegedly distributed to parties to woo them into ant-PPP alliance before election in 1990 - is also going to be rolled out next month after a slumber of 16 years. They all relate to the high profile politicians on both sides.
After the triennial senate elections, temperature is likely to shoot up again on the political front with all main parties lining themselves up for big show as well as consolidating their position by forging alliances and reaching understandings with others.
The PTI has emerged as a force to be reckoned with on the political scene. As the recent passed words of the PTI Chairman Imran Khan go that he is going to bowl out two on one ball in the next elections, the PPP and the PML-N may have to bowl out even three on single ball if the MMA of the rightwing parties got revived.
The government-side presumes elections in September/October which seems most likely if other things, especially those on the judicial plain, remained the same. Maulana Fazlur Rehman of JUI-F, another loud voice for early polls, is now working on a formula on the opposition-side for election in the same months as his party too needs time to take the MMA revival issue to its logical conclusion. The Karachi rally of the party held the other day is a step in that direction.
The PML-N has also slowed down on its call for immediate elections and, according to political pundits, the party appears reshaping its election strategy to remain in the loop of winners next time by unification of the League factions and bring the like-minded in her fold. The PML-N push for early elections corresponded with the situation wherein fears of third force entering the arena loomed large and it sought immediate polls to avert further deterioration of the party cadres. But that threat appears to have subsided, at least, for now. And the PML-N leadership has got time for a more rational assessment of the situation.
So they, by throwing the urge for early election behind, have turned their focus to the fast-nearing Senate election, and this has also provided the party with much needed time to line up for the final showdown. The party has to do a lot of homework before the elections; its manifesto has yet not seen the sun; and it has to consolidate its position in Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber PK.
In Punjab, top office-bearers are to be elected and the matter is still oscillating between the idea of introducing separate bodies for Southern or and Central Punjab or keeping a singe party unit. Though PML-N already has its top office-bearers in rest of the three provinces, yet there is a schism on their names. So reuniting differing factions under the party banner is another affair which will take time.
In Southern Punjab, odds are heavy against the PML-N and the party is pensive to dig in deep in that part as the winning tally of the party has been below average in the past.
The party line of action seems keeping the hostile posture on against the PPP in the house and on the street as well as at the judicial level, and at the same broadening the spectrum of the party taking others in the folds.