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Silver Lining on Election 2024

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Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
The recent elections in Pakistan have catalyzed a monumental shift, challenging the traditional elitist stronghold on politics and signaling a move towards a more inclusive and democratic electoral landscape marking a departure from the past where political success was often synonymous with wealth, lineage, and the backing of the ‘establishment’. By disrupting the age-old dynamics of vote trading and elite dominance, these elections hint at a new era where the collective voice of the broader society—encompassing the poor, the middle class, and the educated—can significantly influence political discourse and outcomes. This evolution towards a merit-based political system, less tethered to patronage and elitism, heralds a promising future for Pakistan’s democratic institutions and the fabric of its society, reflecting a more diverse and equitable representation of its people’s aspirations.

The electoral outcomes in Pakistan have also challenged and overturned a deeply ingrained narrative: that a political party like PTI, bereft of ‘electables’, estranged from establishment backing, and faced with opposition from state institutions, would inevitably falter and face obliteration. Contrary to these expectations, the elections have emphatically demonstrated that it is possible for a party to secure victory without the traditional pillars of establishment support. This breakthrough is particularly poignant, highlighting that individuals from the poorer segments, the middle class, and the educated populace can achieve electoral success without resorting to vast financial resources or leveraging influential connections.This collective awakening to the power of the ballot signifies a momentous step towards democratizing political participation, heralding an era where genuine change is driven by the electorate’s collective will, transcending the barriers of wealth, gender, and institutional influence.

It also brought home one important outcome that any party which will sell itself to undemocratic assumptions will not go unpunished. PML(N) during the PDM coalition, used undemocratic means to beat its opponent. They had in their mind not to strengthen democracy but to jail the Chairman PTI, force PTI leaders to either forsake politics or join another party and put the workers in jail in thousands. They took and projected all their undemocratic acts as their biggest win and used it as a rallying point during their public meetings, without realizing that it is destroying its perception as a political party to trigger a happy undemocratic party. The PML(N) also paid the cost of bringing back Nawaz Sharif by trampling the law of the land and subduing the judiciary at the cost of sacrificing the political capital. They projected these apparent gains as their biggest achievement not realizing that sand has already been shifted right under their own feets. Secondly it brought Nawaz Sharif back home with zero risk and in return it rendered the government, the country and its people ransomed with the establishment. It gave the key role to establishment in SIFC and handed it over major and sensitive institutions like NADRA, PTA and NAB. If we club the power of only these three institutions together, one will easily realize that the soul of the people, economy and politics have been ransomed. It also plunged the economy into negative growth, spiraling the country to unprecedented inflation which was around 12% to 42% inflicting untold misery to the people of Pakistan.

The elections-2024 amongst other things, bring home one important point that if a party heavily bent upon using brute state power to remain in power and is sold to the assumption that the political issues can be handled by brute state power will not go unpunished. These brute assumption taught a good lesson to PML(N) when it used in-proportional force on the participants of PTI long march and PTI protests which included women, elderly and children, and with complete insensitivity the gruesome suffering of the protestors were willingly circulated in the traditional and social media as lessons to those who participated in the protests and to those at home who may have been thinking to using the fundamental rights of assembly, freedom of speech and peaceful protests.

On the other side of the isle was PTI, both its leaders and the party, emerged as steadfast party and steadfast leaders and staunch and loyal workers, who stood bravely against the state brute power and instead of using any violence preferred to use constitutional, legal and political means to pursue their objectives. They shunted all electables and appointed completely unknown educated and learned persons as the candidates. Resultantly, Unlike PML(N) which was punished in the elections, the truncated party and its candidates were rewarded with immense political capital in the same proportion as the PML(N) lost it.

In the PDM government, unlike PML(N), the PPP played extremely well. It unloaded all the economic, financial and law and order challenges to PML(N), and stayed clear of ministries of economy, planning, law and order and did not endorse the state aggression against PTI, and in doing so saved its political capital. This saved political capital paid the PPP with a dividend in the form of excellent and more than expected performance in the elections-2024, in the center, punjab, Sindh and Balochistan making it second biggest national stature party only after PTI.

In the post 2024 elections, PPP has again played very smartly. It has very cleverly opted for all constitutional posts, the presidency, senate chairman, Speaker National Assembly and governors and other such positions in lieu of extending its support to the candidate of PML(N) for the position of premiership while cleverly staying out of the government. It has once again trapped the power hungry PML(N) to form the government in the center and made sure that PML(N) loses whatever little political capital it has left with. With only 79 seats, PML(N) has accepted the premierships disregarding the cost it would have to pay in terms of losing political capital or what cost the country or its people will have to pay. It is now immaterial who would be the prime minister, either Nawaz or Shahbaz or Maryam, in any case up to the next elections, PML(N) will be a party which would most likely lose whatever political capital it has left with.

The 2024 elections in Pakistan have unequivocally signaled a transformative shift in the political landscape, underscoring the electorate’s rejection of undemocratic practices and the misuse of state power for political gains. Parties like PTI, which prioritized constitutional, legal, and peaceful means of engagement, have been vindicated, emerging stronger and more politically capitalized, while those resorting to oppressive measures faced a decisive rebuff from the voters. This electoral verdict not only reaffirms the resilience of Pakistan’s democracy but also highlights the evolving political acumen of its populace, who have demonstrated a clear preference for governance rooted in democratic principles, transparency, and accountability. As the dust settles, the lessons of these elections resonate deeply, heralding a new era where political legitimacy is earned through adherence to democratic norms and respect for the electorate’s mandate, setting a precedent for future political contests in Pakistan.

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