Will Imran Khan's charisma work?
The run up to election 2013 in Pakistan has been electric in some parts of the country and awful in the rest. The ruling trio of the last term is under attack, presumably by the elements that they have been at war with during this period, the terrorists.
But that may not be the only factor playing a role. Antidemocratic forces cornered by the cutting edge politics of the mainstream political parties have run out of options. And this may be their last chance, or for that matter, last move.
For the moment though, the ongoing political campaign may be making more headlines, yet the damage being done by the targeting of political parties of self-proclaimed left will be long lasting and grave than many of us have imagined as it will damage the very institution we all have strived to strengthen, the democracy.
The responsibility for this can be fixed and ironically, the outgoing ruling coalition cannot be set free of their part of the neglect of the law and order situation that the country has been through during their term.
These elections are interesting for some other reasons too. While we can't ignore the mammoth fact that the previous was the first "civilian" parliament which completed its term. Previously all such efforts eventually met conspiracies resulting in midterm elections due to resignations or sacking of the parliament by the president or a military coup d'etat. Felicitations are due, but short lived.
When we examine the plight of the country which braced the outgoing regime, its hard to believe that it was being run by the people elected by the people as their representative.
Many have argued that the country was run like an enterprise, a family state with immense corruption stories and what not. The regime seemed least bothered about people as the suspicions of a deal with the opposition of taking 5 year turns got stronger day by day. Friendly opposition, the PML-N, seems to have delivered what it committed with full honesty. There was not a single moment of agitation, panic or demand for accountability when it came to their contribution to the running of the state.
But their long wait for their proper turn has not been easy towards the end. The momentum gathered by the cricketer-turned-social worker-turned-politician Imran Khan's political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice) (abbreviated as PTI) has become a nightmare for PML-N.
Their strong hold, the provincial capital Lahore and rest of Punjab is under siege by IK's much organized political campaign fevering youth into believing that he will make a new Pakistan for them. With voluminous television advertisements and back to back addresses to political rallies throughout the most populous province of Pakistan, he has created a situation where the real contest has shifted from the conventional PML-N versus PPPP (Pakistan People's Party Parliamentarians) to a more grinding PML-N versus PTI.
Both these parties belong to center right and both of them have been virtually free of targeting by the extremist or other terrorist elements.
PTI boycotted the 2008 elections under a larger democratic alliance's agitation against the then sitting military dictator saying that any elections having him as head of state wouldn't be fair. PML-N first promised to be a part of that boycot but soon realized that they were leaving a space too wide and vacant for those who are contesting (and might have also been influenced by the sweet pill of the musical chair deal struck with PPPP).
So compared to them, PTI didn't have a single seat in parliament during this time. Although they were pretty modest in making the opposition as easy as possible for the ruling coalition, the team of co-chairman of PPPP was cleverer than they thought. And even if not, the consequences of a third contestant taking the stage wouldn't have been imagined, or assured or warned of in the 2008 Murree meeting.
So what do we make of all the electricity of the election campaign? Would the parties of status-quo prevail and the slogans like corruption free new Pakistan be put to rest for another term? Will Imran Khan's charisma work domestically as it does internationally?
Or will the whole drama of contest between PML-N and PTI benefit the silent gambler sitting in the presidency? PTI seems far from making a federal government this time. Their popularity may earn them a provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and an opposition in Punjab and Baluchistan provinces.
Their success on national assembly seats, if it surpasses 30, will automatically bring PML-N and PPPP close together to form a larger coalition, supposedly in the name of defeating antidemocratic forces as they have been blaming PTI of being a brainchild of the military establishment.
The good thing for PTI is that Imran Khan is at an age where after waiting for another five years term, his sherwani would still fit him for a photo shoot and possibly a term as a prime minister. imran khan election www.pakpositive.com