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Rivalry between PML-N and PTI

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Farid A Malik |

The political landscape of the country is set to witness intense rivalries and their manifestations in the form of war of words and mudslinging as the general elections are just around the corner. It is expected that, like always, elections will result in split views and reactions. Only a credible electoral exercise can ensure the protection of people’s mandate.

PML-N is notorious for its election tricks while PTI lacks the organizational muscle to blunt them. With their long stints in power the League has created a vast network of interests that can manipulate the ballot. In Punjab the largest province of the federation there is a battery of loyalists who own their existence to ‘Takht-e-Lahore’. Thana, Patwarkhana and the entire school system gets involved in their electoral effort, and then there are Gullu Butts who create ‘No Go Areas’.

The coaches only coach and then select the team they do not pad up to bat in any format of the game. Only Javed Miandad as coach used to threaten his team that he would himself come on the pitch, which he never did otherwise it would have been another runout.

While a vast majority of Babos in Punjab are in PML-N fold, the Qazis and Khakis have looked the other way in the past. After the 2013 disputed elections, Imran demanded the opening of only four constituencies which was turned down; Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Khawaja Saad Rafique and Baloch Sahib were unseated while Khawaja Asif survived on technical grounds, and now it is his turn.

The contest boils down to PML-N roguery versus PTI as both Chief Justice of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff have promised free and fair elections in 2018. This is a big undertaking. Unless all political players agree on an electoral framework which includes an expeditious disposal of complaints, stability will remain a pipe dream. With PML-N’s manipulative mechanisms neutralized, PTI stands a good chance of winning a simple majority in the National Assembly.

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Imran Khan and PTI have done the hard work of dislodging the corrupt and the incompetent in the political arena, now they have to be beaten at the ballot. Without an effective and functional organization, significant electoral victory is not possible. Electables alone cannot deliver a winning majority needed to form a government. In case of a coalition government, Kaptaan’s chances of leading the nation would be substantially affected. Even if he manages to scramble to the top slot his ability to deliver change would be contained as has been the case in KP.

Coalition partners have their own agenda. KP could have been turned into a model province had the entire PTI potential been used. Though some reforms have been introduced mainly because of Kaptaan’s supervision, it could have been much better. On the other hand the mismanagement of PML-N in Punjab is being exposed, yet the manipulative structure of the party remains intact. Under the leadership of Shahbaz Sharif there is an effort to preserve and use this influence in the coming electoral contest.

In Punjab the largest province of the federation there is a battery of loyalists who own their existence to ‘Takht-e-Lahore’. Thana, Patwarkhana and the entire school system gets involved in their electoral effort, and then there are Gullu Butts who create ‘No Go Areas’.

The PTI’s defeat at Lodhran should have been an eye-opener. Electables at best can win their own seat, they cannot carry the party to victory which is needed in a parliamentary democracy like ours. Constituencies create assemblies, every seat has equal importance. Kaptaan has a historic opportunity to prevail in a free and fair election, quite like ZAB did in 1970. His message of change has to be carefully packaged and then delivered.

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GHQ established parties have an advantage as they are launched with structure and resources. Today they have an abundance of both with the major extension of influence in the administrative set-up of the province that they have ruled for over three decades. If this grip continues the party can come into power again otherwise its chances are limited.
Kaptaan has limited time to organize his team. He needs a Mickey Arthur to build his winning combination. The coaches only coach and then select the team they do not pad up to bat in any format of the game. Only Javed Miandad as coach used to threaten his team that he would himself come on the pitch, which he never did otherwise it would have been another runout.

In 1970, a split mandate was projected but ZAB turned the tables in West Pakistan with his ideological appeal and organizational support of the progressives. Both PML-N and PTI can overcome the scourge of a split mandate, one through their traditional roguery while the other through an effective organization. History may be in the making in 2018, only time will tell. It will be roguery versus organization all the way to an electoral supremacy.

Dr. Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. The article was first published in Daily Times and has been republished here with author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.


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