From the face of it, it appears as if Prime Minister Imran Khan may break this tradition, yet those close to power corridors still believe the tradition will not be broken. They say it is likely that the fresh elections are called before the end of the tenure of this government
Ansar M Bhatti
The opposition parties that gathered on August 11, under the banner of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) resolved to give tough time to the government especially on the issues of the so-called electronic voting system. The Govt, few days ago, unveiled Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) to be used in the next general elections. The opposition has unanimously rejected this idea arguing the Govt has introduced yet another method of manipulating the elections. The opposition smells something fishy behind this idea as, according to it, the government did not take it into confidence on this particular issue.
The PDM is of the view the EVMs experience may not be successful in Pakistan until and unless they are tested and tried thoroughly. In last elections, according to the opposition, the powers that-be managed rigging through RTS, which at the eleventh hour went out of order and thus results were delayed abnormally. Now after that system stands fully exposed, the government now wants to try another one, the PDM believes.
The govt must have taken on board all the electoral parties before introducing the EVMs because they are the stakeholders and thus they have every right to be part of a system that relates to the election process. The one sided approach perhaps has cast doubts. The govt says it wants to ensure that the next elections are flawless and held in a transparent manner. So, if that is the case then why not to take the opposition on board?
On the other hand, opposition parties are still groping in the dark when it comes to evolving a joint strategy against the government. At one point in time it became evident that the opposition may send the Govt packing however after some manipulations and lucrative offers, the PPP – the main party in the PDM, torpedoes these efforts as it chose to dance to the tune of Govt wishes. Thus PDM was rendered ineffective. The August 11 meeting sought to instill a new spirit into the PDM as PML N President Shehbaz Sharif re-surfaced on the scene. PML N, during past few months, has witnessed some internal rifts mainly because Shehbaz Sharif is not willing to move ahead in the light Nawaz Sharif philosophy. The latter believes in a head-on collision with the establishment while Shehbaz holds a diametrically different view on this issue. He believes, PML N can grow faster while being in good terms with the establishment, which, in the given scenario, seems to be a logical approach.
In one of his recent interviews Shehbaz Sharif openly admitted that in 2018 PML N could have come to power if it would have reached an understanding with the establishment. This is true to a great extent. Shehbaz Sharif as Prime Minister is accepted to all stakeholders. There was a risk in introducing Imran Khan and his team because of their being new in the field. However, when there was no deal with the PML N, PTI had to be elevated. The top PML N leadership is worried these days as it knows this tug-of-war within the party will lead them nowhere. Next year shall be the election year and still they have not been able to grapple with the internal differences. They genuinely believe, if they go to polls with a party that is badly fragmented and disjointed, it would simply allow PTI and others to beat them easily.
Unlike, the PML N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif is said to have told Shehbaz that the establishment was setting him up in order to fracture the party. Sources say, Nawaz told his younger brother that offers of prime minster ship to him were nothing but bait. Once the party stands fractured, such offers shall also be withdrawn and he will be left in the lurch.
All said and done, one thing is for sure that the government is not going anywhere for another year. But Pakistan’s history suggests that no prime minister has completed five year term. From the face of it, it appears as if Prime Minister Imran Khan may break this tradition, yet those close to power corridors still believe the tradition will not be broken. They say it is likely that the fresh elections are called before the end of the tenure of this government, maybe six months earlier, so if it happens the government and prime minister will not complete five years!!