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Editorial
Elections in Pakistan
Poll outcome is likely to radically alter internal political dynamics and materially affect its external projections
ActIT Jammu, ASP.net Projects, Java, Vb.net, C# Training Jammu
Uncertainty overhangs the outcome of elections being held in Pakistan today after unprecedented bloodshed in the run-up to what was being hailed as a historic event in itself. It was for the first time in Pakistan’s 66-year existence that a democratically elected government had completed its constitutionally stipulated tenure and made way for the next arrangement to take over. However, the unprecedented procedural normalcy of the changeover has been marred by an equally unprecedented high level of pre-poll violence in which, on an average, 20 persons lost their lives on each day of a month and a half long campaigning.

Another equally disturbing fact is that the so-called non-state actors are feared to have succeeded, with or without the connivance of the ubiquitous ‘Establishment’, in tilting the electoral balance in favour of their radical sympathisers in the fray and against the moderate, secular forces, represented largely by the outgoing spectrum. The calculated manner in which the poll-related violence was pointedly aimed at the latter while leaving the former free to campaign betrayed a well calculated plan of action. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), the largest single party in the previous general elections, along with its allies, Mutahida Quami Movement (MQM) and Awami National Party (ANP) have been selectively targeted so much so that the PPP virtually did not campaign at all and remained relatively invisible from the arena.

PPP happened to be the foremost contender and, eventually, the single largest force in the 2008 elections. Its contrasting invisibility in the present round carries far reaching post-poll implications for the future of polity in Pakistan. Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaf (PTI) have emerged major contenders in the bloody run-up. It would, however, have to be seen as to how it translates into their post-poll configuration. As it is, the general prediction is that, like in the 2008 polls, the current elections are unlikely to throw up a clear cut winner. It would again have to be a combination of various parties and smaller groups that could form a viable entity to rule Pakistan.

On the eve of the elections today, the line up was hardly reassuring. Radical elements backed by religious fundamentalists and armed groups seem poised to derail the middle-of-the-path forces led by Zardari’s PPP. It needs no extraordinary intelligence to appreciate that the beneficiaries of the radical support would have to pay the price once the chips are down. This factor puts a big question mark over the future of politics in Pakistan. Internal politics in Pakistan has traditionally been delicately poised between radical and moderate forces. Despite its serious shortcomings, the outgoing combination led by the PPP had by and large maintained a healthy equilibrium and held in check radical forces though not as effectively as was expected. On the contrary, the emerging political forces are inclind to reverse this trend. And it is the most worrying aspect of elections in Pakistan, looking from beyond the country’s borders.

With the balance of forces in neighbouring Afghanistan in flux in the wake of planned pull out of foreign forces next year consequences of post-election scenario in Pakistan are bound to be watched with an element of deep anxiety across the borders in India, Afghanistan and also the USA. Religious groups, spearheaded by militant Taliban, are on the rise in Pakistan. While its external dimensions are undoubtedly of great concern to neighbouring countries as well as the entire South Asian region, Western strategists must be feeling quite nervous about its fallout on Afghanistan.

Pakistan government’s attitude towards India in general and over the issue of Kashmir in particular is primarily shaped by the contours of the country’s internal political dynamics. The PPP government had, by and large, maintained Parvez Musharraf’s balanced approach over both these issues. As a result, there was general atmosphere of relaxation on the subcontinent, despite occasional flare up triggered by the actions of the non-state actors who are now engaged in shaping the course of elections in their home country. Hardening of attitude towards India and returning to rigid position over the Kashmir issue seem to be distinctly probable in the coming days.

All said and done, the outcome of the elections in Pakistan is unlikely to leave anything untouched, internally as well as externally. From that angle, its significance cannot be over stated.


News Updated at : Saturday, May 11, 2013
 
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