Mansoor Akbar Kundi
IN Churchill’s words, “democracy may be a worst form of government, but without an alternate.” As a humble student and teacher of political science, I firmly believe that the noise and indiscipline of democracy in the longer run is far better than the silence and discipline of dictatorship. Pakistan has been successfully experiencing democratic process since 2007 which, if allowed to continue, can bring better governance results in the years to come. Political analysts in large agree that had democratic continuity of government taken place in Pakistan since 1947, and 1970 election mandate given to East Pakistanis, the country would have prospered without separation into two. Nevertheless, pages of history cannot be turned back with the only lesson not to repeat the mistakes of past.
General election 2018 in Pakistan is marked with great importance. Its importance can be marked with two major significances. First, a continuity of general election witnessed in the wake of two complete five-year tenure of assemblies since February 2008 election. Never in the political history of Pakistan such political development seen before. Political parties inside and outside assemblies must acknowledge the fact as a good political omen. Second, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) as the result of public mandate in its favour appeared as a strong political group at the Centre and two of provinces: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab with seeming appearance in Sindh and Balochistan assemblies.
In the wake of 2018 election all eyes are fixed on the slogan of New Pakistan. It has become a watchword for political and public forces. The slogan was initiated by the PTI soon after its inception in 1996 by Imran Khan which soon in the years to come assumed a political and symbolic significance for the party. Where Imran Khan showed a dynamic and charismatic leadership role in the party by being its bigger strength and direction there the slogan of “New Pakistan” was its major future support and assertion. Two things are notable in the past two decade political struggle of Imran Khan. First, Imran Khan enjoyed charismatic and rational bases of leadership without any support of traditional or inherited benefits which many political leaders enjoy (ed). His immediate family and surroundings did not have such bases of support. He was a national cricket hero and had to his credit the major achievement of the winner of 1992 World Cricket Cup. In the immediate years to come as reflected in his victory speech on the Melbourne Cricket Ground on 25th March 1992 was to utilize his country’s victory for the construction of his then cherishing dream of constructing a cancer hospital in Lahore.
Second, soon after he showed his desire to enter future politics of the country in 1996 he stayed steadfast and firm in pursuit of his party mission —— New Pakistan. His political struggle spanned over 22 years. He met failure and showed political maturity in the process, nevertheless, he remained committed until 2013 his party performed well in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the Centre. Those closely observing 2013 election are witness to the fact that PTI expected and deserved victories on more seats of National and Punjab Assemblies but were deprived due to bureaucratic controlled political engineering and discrepancies. The province of Punjab for which is now ongoing contentious struggle between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and PTI to form government makes difference in the overall power game of the country. It is particular in case of Sharif brothers who would not have reached the top of national politics had they not controlled Punjab. Punjab being the most populous, developed and an area wise large province supports and facilitates rulers under the rudimentary principle of party politics that in the game of politics the ultimate aim for actors is to “gain power and exert influence.”
Three parties have emerged on national level politics. They are PTI, PML-N, and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). PTI will comfortably form government at the Centre and KP. In Punjab, it will have to struggle, but my analysis is that it will be able to succeed with the support of independent MPAs will foresee more personal and development benefits from a party which controls power at the Centre. PML-N will leave no stone unturned to have its government in Punjab but the visible and invisible circumstances and surroundings are less favourable to them than PTI. Pakistan Muslim League- Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) can be a decisive factor, but they seem more in line with PTI than PML-N as far as the government question is concerned. Chaudhry Brothers will be more comfortable in present and future politics once PML-N is seated out of power in Punjab. The major challenge and difficulties to PML-Q in the past five years appeared from PML-N than PTI. PPP comparatively has done well. It enjoyed the support of voters and Establishment. It will be ruling Sindh as in the past, but will have to work more for future development of its party at the hands of its newly emerged leader, Bilawal Zardari with Stanford educated Murad Ali Shah as CM. In National Assembly PPP can play role of Opposition or band-wagon with PTI.
In Balochistan like in the past there will be a coalition government with a Sardar/tribal chief as its Chief Minister. No political party has majority in the Assembly. In 65-member house it seems that Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) will be the leading party and its leader Jam Kamal, the chief of Lasbela but religious and simple minded, will be the next CM. MMA will be the second party. And they will never opt for boycott of Assembly or oath taking, even at the Centre. All eyes are gazed on new leadership at the Centre and even provinces to come up with their agendas to work for a better Pakistan, no matter new or reformed. There are a number of challenges the country is besieged with — the shattering economy, worsening law and order situation, poor governance and energy crisis being the bigger ones.
— The writer is Professor, Dept of Politics & International Relations, International Islamic University, Islamabad.