PAKISTAN Democratic Movement (PDM) has formalized its decision not to participate in the by-elections for the National Assembly seats vacated due to acceptance of resignations of the PTI members of the house by the NA Speaker. Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said on Tuesday that the PDM has unanimously decided not to contest the upcoming elections. Earlier, two key components of the coalition government – JUI(F) of Maulana Fazlur Rehman and MQM-P – had announced their decision not to take part in the by-elections.
It is not yet clear whether or not the PPP, which is an important coalition partner, was on board or not. Irrespective of what course of action PPP takes, the decision of the PDM to stay back leaves the field virtually open to PTI to contest, win and return to the National Assembly once again with the same strength as it enjoyed before the resignation saga. However, it is also not clear whether or not by-elections would eventually take place as announced by the Election Commission because the Lahore High Court has already suspended notifications of the Commission declaring seats of the resigning members as vacant on a petition by the affected members of PTI.
The by-elections are dependent on the final verdict of the court on the issue of resignations which involves legal and constitutional points. As for PDM, it has not given explanation for its decision not to participate in the by-elections but there are understandable factors and reasons behind the move. The ruling parties participated in previous by-elections and their dismal performance was a source of disappointment for their leaders and workers. Apart from the fact that the political narrative of the PTI found favour with the electorate, the candidates of the ruling parties could not win mainly because of bitter decisions that the Government took in the realm of economy which badly affected the common man. The situation has not changed and in fact turned worse due to latest measures by the government at the instance of the IMF. There was also a feeling that it was not worthwhile to spend money and waste energy on the exercise as general elections were also fast approaching. It would be a fatigue for political workers to campaign in the face of strong opponents once for by-elections and then again for general elections. It is to be seen who gains and who loses in the end game.