Rise and fall of political parties



Mohammad Jamil

WHEN a political party is voted to power and fulfils the promises made with the people and ensures good governance, it grows. On the contrary, if the party fails to deliver to the masses and its members are involved in corrupt practices, it shrinks. The political parties participated in 2018 elections not on the basis of their programs enshrined in their manifestos having ideological contours but on the basis of their narratives and promises that are not fulfilled. PTI has indeed emerged as single majority party in the centre and has overwhelming majority in KP assembly. PML-N secured 128 in Punjab provincial assembly against PTI’s 123, and with independents joining the PTI, there is every possibility that it would form government in Punjab province also. PTI claims to have numbers to form government in the centre and Punjab; however PML-N is trying hard to woo PPP and independents.
PTI leadership has cordial relations with Balochistan Awami Party, which is poised to form government in Balochistan. PTI with 22 seats in Sindh assembly has also emerged as second largest party in Sindh Province. With Bilawal Bhutto Zardari leading the election campaign, PPP has performed better than 2013 elections. Bilawal is fairly educated person, and more presentable than many leaders of the country and learning the ropes. Whereas, his lineage with Benazir Bhutto and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto is his great strength, the tarnished image of his father and some PPP leaders is his weakness. The PPP had been routed in 2013 elections in Punjab, as the PPP could not launch an effective campaign due to security issue in view of the looming threat of terrorism. Anyhow, PPP has performed better in 2018, which is due to charisma of Bilawal Bhutto, otherwise it was confined to Sindh only.
If Bilawal Bhutto does not get rid of the corrupt elements in the party, and continues to carry their baggage, there is not even a remote possibility of reinvigorating the party in Punjab, KP and Balochistan. Bilawal Bhutto should remember that the party can survive on the basis of good name and sacrifices by late Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and Benazir Bhutto for some time, but not for an indefinite period. Therefore, Bilawal has to prove that he carries their intelligence and charisma in his genes. In 1970 elections, the PPP has emerged victorious in the then West Pakistan and Awami League in former East Pakistan. As the country was dismembered, the PPP formed the government because it had majority in West Pakistan. Bhutto government had tried to implement the PPP manifesto and taken measures to give a fair deal to the working classes and had introduced land reforms to emancipate the farmers.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif disqualified by the Supreme Court has been asking the people, whether they would do whatever he would ask them to do? The question is what is the objective of Nawaz Sharif in enticing the people to rebel against the system? In fact, Nawaz Sharif on advice of the hawks had decided to go by GT road instead of motorway. Ch. Nisar, Raja Zafarul Haq and Shahbaz Sharif had opposed his travel by GT road. Anyhow, there appears to be struggle within in the party as well within the Sharif family, whereby senior leaders are not willing to accept Maryam Nawaz as their leader. To stay relevant, Nawaz Sharif was trying to pressurize his party so that Maryam or whomsoever he wants is accepted as a party leader. With the shrinking votes, he won’t be able to mobilize the masses to achieve his objective.
Of course, PML-N Punjab government under Shahbaz Sharif improved infrastructure, made underpasses to facilitate traffic, metro bus and orange train. It was on this people of Lahore voted in favour of the party and PML-N secured 10 out of 14 NA seats from Lahore. Contrary to the claims of the PML-N government, it could not effectively control inflation, widespread unemployment, rising poverty and deteriorating law and order situation. It is in this backdrop that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has secured a lead of more than four million votes over the PML-N. Official statistics showed that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has not only gained in terms number of seats in the parliament but also significantly increased its vote bank across the country. PTI is now a national party that exists in all the four provinces. People have supported the party and people have great expectations from Imran Khan.
In the National Assembly, where PTI emerged as the largest party, its vote bank increased from 7.6 million voters in the 2013 general elections to 16.8 million in 2018 election – an increase of approximately 120 per cent. However, the problem is that in Pakistan, jagirdars, vederas and sardars still wield enormous powers. They enjoy political clout and in cahoots with noveau riche industrial class and bureaucracy control the power. They are master political strategists who ride the tide and turn the surge to their advantage. It has to be mentioned that the beneficiaries of the system will never wish to see people’s democracy, as they will be deprived of the ill-gotten wealth accumulated taking advantage of their position in the government. In other words, oligarchs would never like to see the basic change, as it is they who stand to lose. It is yet to be seen as to how Imran Khan can rein in such elements.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.

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