Back to square one

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CHAIRMAN PTI Imran Khan made history by winning elections from six constituencies of the National Assembly at a time as the party retook six out of eight NA seats against which by-elections were held on Sunday.

The party also consolidated its position in the Punjab Assembly by securing two seats as against just one by the PML (N).

The elections would also serve as a morale booster for Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which added two more seats to its tally in the National Assembly and won its first election from Punjab after four years.

The nutshell of the election outcome is that both PTI and the PPP emerged as winners while other parties that fielded their candidates in the polls, notably the PML (N), were the losers.

It is victory and defeat for the political parties concerned but neither the system nor the country would gain anything from this democratic exercise.

The only positive aspect of the entire exercise was that the elections were held in a peaceful and orderly manner and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) once again demonstrated its ability to hold free, fair and transparent elections despite various odds and a charged political atmosphere.

The by-polls have lost significance as these would not change the ground realities for political parties and the country would have to go for another round of by-elections within the stipulated period as the PTI leader is already member of the National Assembly and by-elections against the six seats won by him is a foregone conclusion.

In other words, we are back to square one despite the wastage of time, resources and energy that the country has to spend on this exercise.

One wonders for how long this vicious cycle would continue, especially when the country is facing an extreme financial crisis and needs to save its precious resources.

PTI has won six NA seats and this victory is legitimately being celebrated by its workers and sympathizers but there would be no change in its existing strength in the NA if it decides to return to the House as is being exhorted by the higher judiciary.

PTI is successfully selling its narrative and its leader is hugely popular and, therefore, it would have been appropriate to field genuine candidates against the vacant seats to make a real difference.

The electoral gains might encourage the party to opt for more pressure on the Government to press for its demand for an early election but immediate fresh elections is a remote possibility.

The second consecutive defeat in by-elections would convince the major coalition-partner i.e. the PML (N) to oppose the idea of early elections tooth and nail as these would produce no different results for the party.

The latest defeat of the party is yet another manifestation that the voter has not forgiven PML (N) for its unpopular decisions, which caused record price-hike and produced inflated electricity bills.

It needs time to win back sympathies of the people and, therefore, it will try its best to ensure that the existing set-up continues till completion of the tenure of the present assemblies.

The strategy of the Government was highlighted by Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, also a stalwart of PML (N), who told newsmen in Washington that 10 months were long enough for the government to stage a political comeback.

Answering questions about the result of Sunday’s elections that gave an unprecedented victory to PTI, Dar said that the parties now in the government were aware of “the consequences” of moving the vote of no-confidence but they went for it because not doing so would have disastrous consequences for Pakistan.

Under these circumstances, both the PML (N) and the PTI should review their approaches, avoid confrontation, bring down political tension and focus on delivery that matters much for the people of Pakistan.

PML (N) has the Government in the centre and is, therefore, in a position to provide relief to the masses through readjustment of policies.

As for PTI, it has its governments in the largest province (Punjab) and KP and nothing prevents it from moving towards implementation of its oft-repeated plan to establish ‘Riast-e-Madinah’.

It is far better to utilize time, resources and energies to serve people than adding to the deep polarization.

 

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