Pakistan Elections 2013 have finally concluded. After years of complaints, protests, campaigning, Pakistan has elected a new party to rule over them for potentially five years.
Before discussing the election results, it is incumbent to discuss the actual election process and media coverage. Election was very impressive in terms of being ‘free and fair.’ The process closely resembles the process of Federal Election in Canada. From standing in line to giving proof that you are on the voters list to the standing behind a cardboard box to cast your vote. Everything is in-line with a Democratic country like Canada.
Now back to discussing ‘free and fair’ because we all know there are complaints right across the board that it wasn’t fair. There is video proof of multiple votes being cast but even in a Democratic nations allegations are raised of election staff influencing voters to vote in a certain way. Even after Elections in Canada, allegations of rigging occur. Some prove to be truthful, some prove to be false. If MQM rigged the elections by threatening individuals, I condemn it but it isn’t surprising. Speaking to a few citizens of Karachi for the last decade, it becomes clear they support MQM as a whole. Another issue that occurred was poll stations opening late or elections staff not showing up. This is normal and occurs here as well. Losing electricity is also common in polling stations. Aside from bomb blasts and wide-scale rigging in some districts, all negative events that occurred in Pakistan elections are common in Canadian elections as well.
I have to admit Media coverage was excellent and very comparable to Western media coverage of elections. Immediate announcing of first results is to build up excitement amongst viewers. Elections is a TV ratings game as well, people need to understand that. Are you tired of GEO Tv advertisements that they were first in 2008, and first in 2013 as well? Well in Canada, we see such election advertisements even after 2 years of the election! Obviously all results are unofficial even in Western world as well but at least it beats staying up for 2-3 nights awaiting official and verified election results (as was the case in the past). It is actually quite amazing that GEO was able to project seat total for each party within 3 hours of the polls closing time. In Canada when Electronic voting is involved, it usually takes 1.5hours to project a winner. Way to go for announcing it so quickly.
Obviously inaccuracies are present, hence they keep announcing unofficial (they do the same in Canada and USA as well) but it gives a good idea of who won. I watched Election coverage of ARY, Samaa, Dunya, CapitalTV, Express News, PTV and personally found Geo to be most exciting and most enthusiastic. Come on, it is elections after all. A change in the country, one should be excited about politics (although Mubasher Lucman’s shirt definitely won best shirt of elections night award). I think many youth were following a election so closely for the first time and thought there was over-enthusiasm in media coverage or thought certain aspects were flaws which are not. It is quite common and we all get good laughs out of it so no real cause of complaint.
Election results were expected. The polls were quite accurate. A ZeeTv based poll predicted 13% for PTI, 35% for PMLN, 25% for PPP. PPP dropped to 13% and PMLN is roughly at 43%. PTI maintained at 13% so poll was quite accurate. Another poll which judged favourability index put Nawaz Sharif at 66% and Imran Khan at 60% so clearly they got it wrong. As it stands right now, PMLN total votes are more than triple PTI’s votes.
Biggest Losers: ANP collapsed, MQM maintained, PMLQ collapsed (permanently to be honest). PPP will return someday. After all, Bhutto is a massive franchise. There are 91000(so-far) fools in Pakistan who voted for Jamaat-e-Islami but I guess amongst 86million potential voters, it makes sense fools will be present.
Overall voter turn-out is supposedly at 60%. I don’t believe it but it is quite possible. This is quite remarkable as last election had 40%, in-line with some Canadian elections and most recent Canadian election had roughly 60%. At least people care about voting in Pakistan and at least some are thinking about the nation and not the fact it was a holiday.
Obvious negatives were that Ahmadis were not allowed to vote on the same Electoral List as Muslims. Did you know Jews, Hindus, Christians are Muslims? Neither did I but their names were placed in the Muslims list so I guess they are deemed to follow the Islamic Creed of declaring Allah to be the Only God and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to be a Prophet. In some areas, women were prevented from voting which is quite surprising as one of Pakistan’s former Prime Ministers was a female.
Let’s get to the real issue, why did Nawaz Sharif win and Imran Khan lose so horribly? I am not going to sugar-coat Imran Khan’s loss. He lost horribly. His lost is shameful considering how much hype was present. From the very outset it is important to add I never expected Imran Khan to get a majority or even over 100 seats. I was pretty sure Nawaz Sharif would win the election, although a deep part of me wanted Imran Khan to win. I was realistically hoping Imran Khan would secure roughly 80 seats to have a prominent voice in the government. With 30-40 seats, his voice is equal to PPP’s voice, i.e. non-existent. If he forms an alliance with PMLN, that goes against his principles.
I fully condemn Imran Khan for his stance on Ahmadis and the card he played a week before the election was extremely un-called for. I personally think it was crunch time and he was looking to win a few extra seats so he tried to use the policy of appeasement which failed horribly. Last time I checked, he even lost the Chiniot National Assembly seat as well which in my opinion is the Anti-Ahmadi capital of the world. So much for his ‘Qadiani Lobby- Last Prophet’ remarks. I think I have to be a bit rational here as well. Everything he stated regarding definition of Muslim is exactly per laws of Pakistan. If you want to declare yourself a Muslim in Pakistan on paper, you have to ascribe to Imran Khan’s beliefs of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) being the last Prophet (God Help this Nation which rejects Blessings of Prophet-hood). I wasn’t too offended by this remark as he and all his politician brethren sign the Pakistani passport form countless times which essentially says the same. I was offended by him using such disgusting language to refer to the Spiritual Leader of Ahmadiyya Community. He blatantly lied about the meeting that took place during Peace Symposium (video proof is available so not sure how he had the audacity to deny).
Having said all that, he was still a person who could penetrate the two-party dictator rule in Pakistan. He had a vision for a realistic change. His vision required decades to implement but at least he could have started something. I detest his Anti-Ahmadi remarks but I still have to think rationally and understand that although he keeps making Islamic references, he would have been a Prime Minister for the entire nation and not just for Muslims. Ahmadi persecution and anti-Ahmadi laws is a saga which is deeply rooted in nation of Pakistan. Youth nowadays have grown up with these laws and majority overwhelmingly supports such heinous laws. Imran Khan could have improved Pakistan as a whole and maybe with his presence, a few decades later, Pakistanis would begin to modify their mindset. His election result was dismal. He can’t have any influence in the government. He is not even prominent enough to take over a ministry.
I understand full well a person can’t go from having no power to coming in the majority (it defies laws of politics) and in normal circumstances, Imran Khan should be commended on this result. From virtually no seats to having 30+ seats is a grand feat and shows that a third party has been inaugurated in Pakistan. Unfortunately we are not in normal circumstances. The country is so deep and backwards in a hole that change was needed immediately. If we were still 1980’s, and Imran Khan came with result of 30+ seats, most would have considered him a hero but at this stage of Pakistan where it is extremely behind, not choosing change will hurt Pakistan a lot and Imran Khan’s 30 seats seems like a failure. Some will say now there are 3 parties so Imran Khan can penetrate in 2018 but the issue is far bigger than that.
Sharif brothers have a solid foundation in Punjab which not only centers in Model Town, it is made up of small regions who collectively vote for a certain party without ever considering about real issues. In a democratic country like Canada, we are used to focusing on issues such as Energy crises and corruption. We are not dealing with poverty where individuals sell their votes for a few thousand rupees or a meal. It is sad Pakistan is considered as one of the least literate nations and it shows they certainly are. If one was to judge support of individual parties based on their support on social media sites, it is quite clear PTI would win a landslide. On the other hand, PMLN supporters were virtually non-existent on social media sites. Unfortunate this illiterate society who still gives thumb impressions to sign and stamp on a party symbol hardly care about issues that matter and their lack of presence on social media sites shows their illiteracy.
Tough loss for Imran Khan especially considering he presided over countless large-scaled Jalsas but it’s clear that one can’t change mentality of Pakistanis. People need to stop talking about election rigging in Punjab. The difference of seats between PMLN and PTI is over 90 which is way too much to justify protesting and causing restlessness in society over allegations. Protesting rigging when such a large gap exists shows how illiterate the society is and their lack of understanding. Lest we forget the alleged election rigging of Florida in 2000. That election rigging in USA potentially was the cause of war in Afghanistan and war in Iraq and consequentially War against Terror which Pakistan is well-aware of. That allegation was based solely on one state and the results proved to be fatal even for Pakistan.
All Imran Khan did was get more people out to vote but he was not able to translate that passion into votes. Unfortunately Imran Khan will not be able to penetrate in 2018 or ever. In Texas, USA, one can never imagine a Democrat winning the state and in the same manner one can’t imagine a penetration by anyone else in Punjab. Unfortunately Texas is only one of the 50 states in USA whereas Punjab region holds most seats in all of Pakistan for National Assembly. One can only pray that PMLN is guided to do a better job than before and may they provide daily food for individuals instead of just around elections time.
Here’s to my first ride on the Bullet Train!