By-election results: PTI needs some soul searching

0
126

It happened rarely in Pakistan’s political and electoral history that the incumbent government lost a by-election. Normal practice here is that the sitting government wins by-elections with clear margin primarily because the entire government machinery is at its disposal that makes manipulation of elections much easier. Therefore losing elections despite having all factors on its side, should ostensibly a source of concern for the sitting government. It has to put its heads together to know what went wrong and where.

Analysis

Ansar M Bhatti

ISLAMABAD: The elections results in February 19, 2021 by-elections seem to have jolted the ruling government as it had to face defeat even in its stronghold Nowshera where PML N candidate defeated PTI rival with a convincing margin. In Wazirabad election PML N was able to retain its seat while in Daska NA 75 results are withheld after two people lost their lives as a result of hullaballoo. Nowshera results are surprising because it used to be a stronghold of Defence Minister Pervez Khattak as it was his home constituency.

Reports suggest that because of internal fissures in the ranks of KPK PTI, party had to face defeat. According to reports brother of Pervez Khattak who was also holding portfolio of agriculture minster, openly supported the PML N candidate. He had to lose his portfolio afterwards but the damage had already been done. PML N victory in Nowshera and elsewhere not only turns out to be a morale booster for the party but it shows utility and relevance of the PDM alliance as well.

Owing to internal party differences, PTI now wants the Senate election to be held through open ballot because otherwise those MPs who do not like party leadership or its way of governance, may vote against party candidates. That is only reason the PTI is hell-bent upon having the Senate elections through open ballot.

It happened rarely in Pakistan’s political and electoral history that the incumbent government would lose a by-election. Normal practice here is that the sitting government wins by-elections with clear margin primarily because the entire government machinery is at its disposal that makes manipulation of elections much easier. Therefore losing elections despite having all factors on its side, should ostensibly be a source of concern for the sitting government. It has to put its heads together to know what went wrong and where.

But frankly, one does not need to be Einstein to figure out as to what led to the defeat of the ruling party. We have pointed out time and again in these columns that government direly needs to improve its governance and deliver its promises made with the people of Pakistan during the election campaign. People were expecting to get some relief during the PTI regime but to their utmost disappointment, things have gone even worse. Ordinary folks have nothing to do with gimmickries such as IMF constraints; devaluation of rupee or borrowings made by the erstwhile rulers, they only need their grievances to be addressed on priority basis.

PDM’s decision to join hands in the by-elections has also paid dividends. If this arrangement works well, the allied parties may continue it even in the next general elections. In this case, it will of course be a difficult task for the PTI to secure or even retain its seats. The only thing that can help PTI against the PDM alliance is the good governance and maximum and immediate relief to masses.

AS regards results of NA 75 Daska constituency, the PML N has demanded re-election, which , in the given circumstances, appear to be a legitimate demand for  brawls and killings in this constituency have rendered the entire the electoral process dubious. It was quite brave move on the part of the Election Commission of Pakistan to hold the Punjab government responsible for the hooliganism that took place in NA 75. At the same time the ECP press release speaks volumes for the helplessness of this constitutional top body responsible for holding free and fair elections. If it cannot ensure free and fair elections in just one constituency, how will it be able to conduct upcoming local bodies’ elections and then the general elections in a transparent manner?