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Pakistan: Elections and Beyond

Pakistan: Elections and Beyond

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Published by Zulfiqar Shah
Published in CLAWS, India, May 18, 2013
Published in CLAWS, India, May 18, 2013

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Published by: Zulfiqar Shah on Aug 18, 2013
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7/20/13www.claws.in/print_article.php?recNo=1378&u_id=188www.claws.in/print_article.php?recNo=1378&u_id=1881/3
The Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS)
Article No.:
2377
Date:
18/05/2013
Pakistan: Elections and Beyond
Zulfiqar ShahE-Mail- shahzulf@live.com
The recent elections in Pakistan were strategically important, because the people of theanarchy-laden country had to choose their fate out of highly skewed options. For a countrywhere no civil government could complete its constitutional term as well as transfer power through holding free, fair, and non-manipulative elections, the elections can certainly be termedas a remarkable achievement. Such a historical yet, incomplete task that should have beenaccomplished immediately after 1947 has been attained after sixty-five years, albeit in a half-hearted manner. News reports, public reaction, social media, visual evidences as well asobservations by the EU mission and civil society monitors indicate that the elections were“neither free, nor fair and non-manipulated” in many parts of the country, especially in Sindh,Baluchistan, South Punjab and a larger part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). That notwithstanding,they herald an important chapter in Pakistan’s history.Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) have won 124 seats, mostly fromcentral and northern Punjab and to a lesser extent from Hazara division of Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh,Baluchistan and South Punjab. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has been reduced to Sindhprovince alone, winning just a few seats in Punjab and KP. Unlike people outside Pakistan, thepeople of Pakistan are surprised at the extent of the success achieved by Imran Khan’s‘Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf’ party (PTI) which has now emerged as the third largest politicalparty. Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) with 18 seats is now the fourth largest party. JamiatUlema-e-Islam of Maulana Fazlur Rehman (JUI-F) won 10 seats and retained the position of fifth largest party. Against expectations by analysts, Pir Pagara-Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) won five seats in the federal legislature.PML-N will be forming the central government and has tied up with PML–F from Sindh andPakhtunkhwa Mili Awami Party (PkMAP) of Baluchistan as allies in the central government. It isalso expected that PML-N may seek alliance with JI and possibly with JUI-F. PML-N could alsoform a coalition government in Baluchistan, it has however, declined the offer by JUI-F of forming the government in KP. PPP and MQM will be forming a coalition government in Sindh.The elections have been marred by allegations of election rigging. For the first time inPakistan’s history, the media, mostly social media started telecasting and circulating the videoclips of election rigging at various polling stations in Karachi, Hyderabad, rural Sindh, SouthPunjab and KP. Reports emanating from the print and electronic media and from internationalelection observers, talk of heavy rigging in Sindh. They also noted that the voter turn-out wasmore than 100 percent in some constituency, which means that the number of votes castedwere higher than the registered voters particularly in Karachi. This indicator alone establishesthe higher level of election fraud and rigging. Election Commission of Pakistan also admittedon May 13 that the elections in Karachi, Hyderabad and some other parts of Sindh were notfair. PML–F has claimed that its five candidates in the National Assembly and 28 in Sindh
 
7/20/13www.claws.in/print_article.php?recNo=1378&u_id=188www.claws.in/print_article.php?recNo=1378&u_id=1882/3
Provincial Assembly gained the maximum votes but lost as the election process and the resultswere rigged. Sindhi nationalists, mainly Sindh United Party, Qaumi Awami Tahreek and SindhTaraqi Passand Party has said that their candidates on at least three National Assembly seatsand around 10 in Sindh Assembly should have won had the results not been rigged. Besides,another Sindhi political party with nationalist leanings, National Peoples Party has secure twoseats in the National Assembly and three in the Sindh Provincial Assembly. In fact, Sindh hasbecome the centre stage of massive agitation against election rigging in the province withunexpected public outpourings in the streets of Karachi and other cities and towns. TheElection commission has also received formal complaints of rigging from 12 districts in Sindh,nearly 30 districts in Punjab most of them from Southern Siraiki belt, 9 districts in Baluchistanand some districts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).There is surprise in Pakistan over PML–N candidates winning from Baluchistan and the Balochnationalist leader Akhtar Mengal’s Balochistan National Party (BNP) losing many seats. InBaluchistan, voter turnout was reported to be five percent in some constituencies asBaluchistan’s radical nationalist parties boycotted the elections. Pakhtunkhwa voters wereinfluenced in two ways. One, the Taliban terrorism harassed ANP supporters through dozens of terrorist activities in the province and the other according to analysts was vote-rigging andmanipulation. The analysts also believe that vote rigging in Siraiki-speaking South Punjab ledto PTI gains against PPP despite the fact that the latter was riding a popular wave for havingadvocated a Siraiki province.During the forthcoming government of PML-N, there are possibilities of relatively lower violenceby the fundamentalists in Punjab and the non-tribal Pakhtunkhwa areas. At the same time, itwould have to face Imran Khan who will not allow Sharif to compromise his rightist stance.Besides, the powerful security establishment of Pakistan may possibly engage with the Balochnationalists through Sharif, as the federalism crisis in Pakistan is in fact a conflict betweenPunjabi dominated establishment and the other provinces and ethnic groups. There are alsochances of civil-military antagonism, as Sharif has announced action against Musharraf onKargil War and toppling of his previous government. This could therefore become key concernfor the all stakeholder in the PML-N government.The government will also face severe economic challenges. Karachi is likely to lose its share inthe economic growth of Pakistan during the next five years. Besides, the issues like KalabaghDam and Gwadar as well as Zulfiqarabad ports along with extensive exploitation of naturalresources and international trade agreements on the coal and natural gas resources of Sindhwill possibly come under limelight. Acceleration of right-wing influence or Talibanisation in Sindh, Baluchistan and South Punjab inthe next five years is likely. Also, Arabisation or Saudisation of Pakistan’s society and politicsmay move to the next level. Areas of concern would be the discrimination and harassment of religious minorities like Christians and Ahmadiyya Muslims through blasphemy law and Hindusby forced conversions and abductions. The Blasphemy Law could become more stringent asright wing radicals in past were having friendly relations with PML-N. However, with Pir Pagaro’s PML–F being an ally in the central government, Hindus in Sindh may feel relativelysecure.Being a powerful ethnic right of centre leader, Nawaz Sharif would focus on Taliban militancy,Pakistan’s policies as well as engagement with Afghanistan, policy approach towards theissues like Kashmir and relations with India. US-Pakistan relations would likely simmer withnew interpretations. It is also expected that right of centre government in the center and right-wing government in Pakhtunkhwa will be instrumental in Pakistan’s policies concerning

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