Pakistan is one of the most interesting country to analyze, observe, and watch for. Its politics, poverty, Islamism, terrorism, military, politicians, courts, law, elections, present to us a very fascinating read because the amalgam of these gives us the ‘failed state’ of Pakistan. The country is going for general elections on 25th July and their future polity is at stake in this. The people have very limited good options. They have to choose the ‘lesser evil’ for a better future. The happening of the election itself is a big win for the people of the country because they happen seldom.
The people of the country mostly do not get a chance to vote for their leaders because for more than half of its existence the mighty ‘Army’ ruled them. The state of Pakistan is at the mercy of Army most of the time. As the popular proverb goes, ‘In other countries state has an army but in Pakistan army has a state’, so a transition of power happening between political parties continuously since 2008 is itself a big deal for the people. In this election the people do not have very good options, most of the leaders contesting are hardcore Islamist and are invoking religion and not good governance to get votes.
The three popular parties in this election are Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The main support base for Nawaz Sharif’s comes from Punjab region of the country. The region is second largest province by area, after Balochistan, and it’s the most populous province, with an estimated population of 110,012,442 as of 2017. It constitutes almost half of the population of the country and produces more than half of the GDP. Former prime minister of the country Nawaz Sharif is immensely popular in the region and won 118 seats out of 141. The region of Punjab constitutes 141 seats out of total 342 seats of the country, so good performance in this region ensures a government at the center for any party. It is just like a good performance in Hindi heartland ensuring a government at center in India. In 2013, PTI won only 8 seats in the region and rest were won by independents.
The region with a second largest number of constituencies is Sindh area which is a stronghold of PPP and MQM. The MQM is primarily a Karachi based party advocating the rights of ‘Muhajir people’. Of the total 61 seats of the region, 30 were won by PPP and 18 by MQM.
The person who got most media coverage in this election is Imran Khan, despite his stronghold being limited to small regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Both regions are dominated by Pathan people and is a hotbed of terrorism. The Pakistan Taliban is mainly based in these areas and this is the reason behind Imran Khan’s occasional support to Taliban customs and rules. Imran Khan played instrumental role in ousting Nawaz Sharif from PM chair and now he dreams to occupy the same, though even a good performance in Pashtun dominated areas will not ensure his victory until he holds the heart of Pakistan-Punjab.
Some other marginal participants in the election are the son of Lashkar-e-Taiba leader Hafiz Saeed who is contesting from his father’s Islamist outfit Allah-o-Akbar party. Hafiz is not contesting himself, instead he has fielded 79 candidates for national assembly, 181 for the four provincial assemblies. UN-designated terrorist Waleed is contesting from Lahore XI (NA-133), which was won by PML (N) in 2013. Some other hardcore Islamist participants are Mohammed Ahmed Ludhianvi & Aurangzeb Farooqi, both of them belong to Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat, an organization banned under the Pakistan Anti-Terrorism Act.
So the choices present before people are limited and bad. They must choose ‘lesser evil’ candidates and parties when they go for voting tomorrow. Otherwise, the already bad polity of the country will get worsened. The ‘failed state’ of Pakistan do not have many things to lose but they could choose wisely for a better future.
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