In the run-up to the elections today, the PTI Chairman Imran Khan has alleged that the PML-N can never win elections without rigging and malpractices, and that it has lately introduced the trend of “hooliganism and bloodshed” in its politics.

Rigging and calling PML-N a cheat has become the party slogan, and lately it’s the only thing the PTI has become famous for. The trend of hooliganism, though, has always been a major characteristic of the Pakistani electoral system, and the PTI has itself carried on that tradition very well if one was to hark back to its D-Chowk dharnas. Did he not shout “Oye Nawaz Shareef, oye buzdil” multiple times from the top of his container? And did his crowd not roar in joy at such refrains? The PTI Chief also said that the PML-N has largely been transformed into Punjab’s Muttahida Qaumi Movement. One wonders about the wisdom of such remarks, where he is insulting not just the PML-N but also the MQM.

Regardless, the death of two PTI workers is regrettable, and the PML-N stands accused. It is terrible that competition during election time makes party workers come to blows. PML-N already has a reputation of being a party of thugs, and such incidents do not surprise anyone anymore. However, the language that is often used by the PTI for its opponents and their lack of diplomatic sense does not endear the PTI to anyone. The PTI may have found a very large niche of voters due to its anti-corruption mandate, but it is unlikely that this group has grown much in the last one year. The party has a tough challenge in todays elections and can ill-afford any more losses.

According to the Election Commission Pakistan (ECP), ballot papers have been printed and handed over to the province. All voters of Punjab can check their vote and polling station details by sending CNIC number on 8300. More than 20 million registered voters of 12 districts will use their right to vote for the local bodies elections in Punjab. Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has directed that police and administration will ensure strict implementation of a security plan. Khan instead has called for deployment of the army and Rangers, lest the hooligans come out (and cheat Imran Khan’s party of its vote). We can only hope that the election is conducted peacefully, yet we keep no expectations from the PTI and PML-N workers to be able to maintain decorum. Undoubtedly, PTI will again cry foul in another 24-hours time, and the cycle will begin all over again.