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Politiking In Pakistan

Posted on 06 March 2013 by admin

Dr. Hasan Askari

The Army top leadership has assured more than once during the last two weeks that it supports the holding of the elections on schedule and that it would work with any government installed with the mandate of the electorate. The Army’s support to democracy is reassuring and it has set in motion the transition process from the current governments at the federal and provincial levels to caretaker administration at these levels. The prime minister and the opposition leader are expected to decide about the name of the caretaker prime minister. Both sides are talking with their allies before formally exchanging names. Hopefully, they agree to a name. This is expected to be followed up with the nomination of caretaker chief ministers of four provinces. This will be done by a consensus of the chief minister and the leader of the opposition in the provincial assembly of the province concerned. It was also expected that the elections to the national and provincial assemblies will be held on the same day.

 If the prime minister and the leaders of opposition do not agree to a name for caretaker prime minister, the matter will go to a parliamentary committee which will have equal representation of the government and the opposition for deciding about the caretaker prime minister. If the matter is not settled there both the PPP and the PMLN will lose the initiative about the selection of the caretaker prime minister. This will expose their incapacity to resolve their problem by themselves. Then the Election Commission will decide about the caretaker prime minister out of the four names submitted by the prime minister and the leader of the opposition (Two names from each side). The same procedure applies to the selection of caretaker chief minister.

 The failure to agree on the caretaker set up will escalate tension between the government and the opposition with will have negative implications for their mutual interaction during the election period.

 Two types of political activities are noticeable in connections with the elections. First, a number of political leaders are changing parties. Second, the political parties are working towards building electoral alliances or seat adjustments.

 No ideology is involved in the political leaders changing their parties. Political expediency is shaping their decision to change their parties. These are the party leaders who have developed differences with the leadership of their original party and they do not expect to get party ticket for the elections. In some cases local factionalism inside and outside the party also causes some people to change political loyalties. If one faction gains influence with the leadership of a party, its rival faction will definitely leave the party to join the competing political party. Currently, the PMLN seems to have gained more leaders as compared to its losses to other political parties.

  A large number of political parties have agreed to seat adjustment. These parties talk about seat adjustment after the meetings of their leaders in order to some positive outcome of the meeting; in practice it may mean little.

 Most of the seat adjustment or electoral alliance activity is among Islamist and Political-Rightist political parties. Some Islamist parties have formed alliances. The Sunni Tehrik with support base in Karachi has created an electoral alliance with the PMLN which has also undertake seat adjustment with the Jamiat-i-Ahle-Sunnet Wal-Jamat (formerly Sipah-e-Sahaba) in the Punjab. The JUIF and the PMLN have also agreed to seat adjustment. The JUIF may be useful for the PMLN in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but the JUIF may not be of much help to the PMLN in the Punjab.

 The PMLN has been very active in interior Sindh to build support for itself. It entered into an electoral alliance with the PML-Functional of Pir of Pagaro, National People’s Party of Ghulam Mustafa Jatoi which is being managed by his son and 19 other Sindhi nationalist parties and group. Jatoi’s NPP may not get more than one or two seats. Other nationalist Sindhi groups in this alliance do not have any strong electoral support. Most of them may not even get more than one seat. The alliance is also known for anti-PPP disposition. Mumtaz Bhutto has brought his small party under the fold of the PMLN but he does not have much electoral support.

  The alliance of Sindhi parties, including the Pir of Pagaro and the PMLN, wants to offer itself as an alternate to the PPP in interior Sindh.

 The most intriguing development is the announcement by General Pervez Musharraf on March 1 to return to Pakistan within a week of installations of caretaker government. He wants to challenge the existing political forces to make a credible space for himself in Pakistani politics. Musharraf is no longer the lead political leader in Pakistan. His political party, All Pakistan Muslim League, APML, lacks organizational network and public support to become a lead party. Musharraf will face strong opposition from the major parties and he will also be dragged in court cases. The sooner Musharraf realizes that his active political career has come to an end in 1988 the better it is for him. The pre-election competitive politics will become more intense after mid-March.

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