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Why the people of AJK put their confidence in PM Khan’s PTI

Muhammad Ayaz Khan highlights the reasons that led to PTI's success in AJK's recent elections. He further talks about the opposition parties' reaction and how they started their blame game of rigged elections. This should be a point of concern for PTI when they target the 2023 Pakistan General Election.

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It was as expected. No surprise there. The Gallup survey, albeit with a surprising avoidance of a clear answer who will you vote for, came out with a clear preference for PTI leadership. A 67 % leadership preference has an excellent mathematical chance to be converted into an easy election victory. Though it stumps me why the intention to vote was not a question just a few days before the election? Might have been manipulated. However, it did provide an indication of how people are thinking.

On the ground realities, migration of seasonal candidature birds, the realignment of local leadership with PTI, the fractured, fragmented, panicking opposition, the abandonment by Bilawal Zardari of an election with 45 seats at stake to go to the USA to attend some unknown meeting/ seminar, the decrying of expected rigging even before the election date and so many other indicators portrayed a picture of PTI election victory.

Read more: Victory for PTI as it wins majority seats in AJK elections 2021

PTI emerges as the winner once again

Nobody had any doubts about that however, the point in question was the magnitude of it. That became clear on the 26th morning. PTI had enough numbers to form the government without any help from anyone. Out of 45 seats, 44 results have been declared with one withheld. The table showed as under:

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Four seats are reserved and considering the PTI has won 56 % of the seats declared and if we include the one seat by Muslim Conference than 59 % of the seats declared thus at least 2 if not 3 of the reserved seats will be won by PTI nominees.

Thus with 28 or 29 seats in an assembly consisting of 49 seats PTI will have no problem forming the government singlehandedly. Actually, after Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, this will be the second assembly where PTI can and will do a solo flight.

Opposition is decrying rigging. However, people versed in the intricacies of Pakistani politics can read between the lines and detect that it’s just a face-saving exercise. The election on election day was fair enough. There was some localized problem but by and large a peaceful election except the unfortunate incident of killing of two PTI supporters. The opposition leaders with their hue and cry about rigging without any prima facie cause for it are strengthening the narrative and hand of PTI & Imran Khan in their effort and resolve to introduce electronic voting.

Read more: The ‘Electables’ in Imran Khan’s PTI

Did PTI win through rigging the elections?

It is now clear that in the Pakistani election till we have a full-proof rigging free mechanism in place, none of the parties will accept defeat. It’s a dress rehearsal for 2023. Even the statement words can be preempted. All the usual excuses will be there plus it’s a fact that the status quo parties have become an expert in election manipulation. So, the only way out is electronic voting.

Now the question is that if we decide to do away with the usual public consumption statements & take a long hard look at the election results what can we decipher? It is agreed and conceded that the tilt generated by the fact that PTI is in power at Federal Level was there. But it’s also clear that the tilt was not supplemented by an overwhelming use of on-the-ground influence.

Looking at past results we can reasonably conclude that if one of the status quo party was in power at the Federal level that party would have managed at least 40 seats out of 44. So, we can not rule out the Federal Party tilt altogether but can conclude it was not overwhelming.

Read more: Can opposition sell any narrative to show PTI government the door?

It is reasonable to assume that the narrative built by Imran Khan & PTI that they have built the “Kashmir Narrative” in the world has been endorsed by masses of Azad Kashmir. The general vibes are that this feeling is much more intense & driving emotion in the occupied Kashmir and a vote of total Kashmir would have probably resulted in a two-thirds majority for Imran Khan.

PMLN with their dismal showing evidently displayed a total failure to get their narrative across to the public to be accepted. Pakistan Peoples Party had shown strong pockets of support and outdid themselves by winning 11 seats.

The blame game begins 

PPP did do some work when they were in power & people do retain the memory of it. They might have actually fared better if they had made their governance the central selling point of their campaign instead of shrilly adding their “me too” sounding narrative of joining PML-N to accuse Imran Khan of selling Kashmir.

It can be considered an established fact now that Imran Khan and the narrative of the state of Pakistan has been endorsed by the people of Azad Kashmir & Imran Khan is now recognized as the Ambassador of Kashmir.

However, there were some troubling points as well. The opposition had some just cause to crib about the inflation, economy, confusion in governance, etc. Though they woefully failed to build up a strong message as their focus was on proving Imran Khan’s complicity in “sellout of Kashmir” as they termed it.

Read more: Indian Media goes berserk over ‘projected’ PTI win

That shifted the focus to an extent that they bombed out in pushing their sellable points. Even then it did have some effect which showed in election results. It should be a point of concern for PTI when they target the 2023 Pakistan General Election.

It goes without saying that at that time or with the changing geography, the takers on this line will be larger. While defeat can teach you a lesson, sometimes victory can also give you pointers. A hung parliament with the PTI dependent on calculative mercenary allies can spell disaster in 2023. If the PTI hopes to repeat the solo run of Kashmir in 2023 in Pakistan, they have to address the justifiable point of concern. Some introspection and more serious actions are needed by PTI.

The author has worked for Unilever for 25 years. He is a professional translator/interpreter of five languages and is also a certified computer trainer. He is currently living in Virginia, USA. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space. 

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