Review of the Political Situation at the Dawn of a New Year

With Sunday’s decision by the Pakistan People’s Party to contest the elections, it instantly threw the PML-Q and the ruling elite into a frenzy, the PML-Q had predicted this move and a day before had announced a complete stoppage of their election camping taking the excuse of deteriorating unrest in the country following the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

PML-Q had the perfect plan the entire elections were rigged to ensure a clear majority but the events on the 27th December would exude a definite wave of sympathy for the PPP enough to place them closer to a ruling majority. The election commission met today morning behind closed doors to make a decision but at the conclusion they had a decision but delayed the announcement for one more day. This in itself should expose the ‘independence‘ of the election commission which was being trumpeted as the upholder of free and fair election. Sadly it goes to prove that its nothing less then a nurtured organization installed to rig the upcoming elections for those toeing a Pro-Musharraf sentiment namely PML-Q, JUI-F & MQM. Free and Fair how truly breathtaking

A the start of a New Year I think its a good time to do a party-by-party analysis of the present political situation, it must be noted that things are changing dramatically in Pakistan on a moment to moment basis but on the morning of Jan 1st 2008 my understanding of the overall scenario is. But sadly in my analysis there are just one too many conspiracies going on to mean us any good


There is no doubt on Oct 27th they suffered the lost a their most cherished leader, in her typical arrogant style she kept her party unified through the thick and thin but after her assassination we now might see a weakness in the biggest party of Pakistan, we see a few faces eagerly jumping at the opportunity to reach the throne. But through the dark clouds emerged a ‘will’ which nominated Asif Ali Zardari and Bilawal Zardari to run the party. Had if there not been a will then the struggle would have ensued but within the emotionally charged leadership they had to swallow the last wishes of the slain leader, come what may. Bilawal might have been a great choice, a fresh choice, a choice of hope for Pakistan, but when the people of Pakistan see Zardari in the flanks nominated to straddle the PPP for three more years it definitely bothers the people of Pakistan.

Three days into mourning the PPP leadership quite rightly feels that they can orchestrate a landslide victory extracting the sympathetic vote for Benazir Bhutto. If they delay in participating in the elections the wounds would have then been allowed to heal and the victory would not be as sweet. It must be kept in mind that PPP is at the moment a rudderless vehicle, temporally stitched together with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari at the top but no one even within the PPP can for a moment trust this conniving businessman, many see him as an opportunist waltzing in to take chunk of pie from their hard efforts in the party. I suspect there will be a power struggle within the PPP very soon to the extent splinter groups can and will form in due course.

The sooner the elections are held lesser will be the chances of any breakaway splinter group, weakness which the intelligentsia could easily exploit. The splinter group might not win an outright elections but will pull the Anti-Zardari faction in a strong way. The question is can Zardari keep the hounds at bay, we saw one compromise already where after some continued insistence he admitted that Makhdoom Amin Fahim is the parties next nomination for the PM slot, what other deals have gone done, we shall find out in due course, but its now all a game of money and power


It is without doubt that the biggest looser from the events of 27th Dec are the Chaudhry’s. For them the election was almost in the bag with barely 10 days to go and an advertisement budget of over Rs 1 Billion, they were already celebrating. The rigging was mostly prepared as all necessary bureaucratic transfer of key personnel was completed and now they just had to sit tight till election day and let them do all the work. The assassination of BB leaves them with shattered dreams, now confronted with a new voting of facing the emotionally charged Janesran-e-Bhutto it would sweep in the silent and swing voters for PPP, which at best cannot be predicted. Ideally they had an idea of the margins required for victory but in such a short time the emotionally charged voter cannot be calibrated and hence the required rigging difficult to accurately predict for each constituency Even before 25th Dec the rigging was basically only to show the margin of victory buy a few hundred or a few thousand votes nothing too drastically different to raise eye brows, on election night they walk home with close margins a pat on the back to say ‘a close fight’. Blatant victory would expose the obvious, so it needed to be subtle yet effective and now the equation is unpredictable. Hence on-time elections will be a certain defeat, but on the other hand if they can pull the election commission into a delay it may allow them time to regroup and re plan but mostly they would work on lubricating a split within the PPP and at the same time the longer the delay means a less emotionally charged voter showing up on polling day


General Musharaf may have settled comfortably in for a second term as President of Pakistan but his nightmare begins the day PPP and PML-N walk into the assemblies with a majority, a dreaded 2/3rd is even possible and from then on Musharraf can start counting his sheep. Benazir was a tough cookie for him to swallow and Zardari would be even tougher, it is possible that Musharraf might be able to bribe his opposition but not for long as he now lives without a wardi and they will definitely smell blood. Quite simply Musharraf cannot afford a PPP majority in any condition and needs the support of PML-Q, MQM and JUI-F to protect him through the thick and thin for the next five years. Musharraf will without doubt be edging towards a delay in the elections and then later helping PML-Q to somehow work on the PPP splinter group.


Today Karachi went through a tough roller coaster, immediately at the conclusion of the ECP meeting, a dangerous rumor spread like wildfire throughout the city that Farooq Sattar was killed and a bomb exploded at 90. For Karachi this is the worst nightmare and simply the rumor brought the city to its knees lucky for us that the situation was salvaged well in time because had if the confusion allowed to prevail it could have resulted in wide spread ethnicity riots setting up a perfect excuse for Musharraf to delay the elections. Hats off to the MQM leadership to have reacted quickly to place Farooq Sattar on ARY News to visually show Karachi that he is alive and well. This rumor was without doubt a deliberate spark simply made to provide Musharraf an excuse to delay the elections. I am stunned how easy it is to set a city on fire so they can win. MQM simply defended its home territory.


Nawaz Sharif won the hearts of many with him being quick to offer a boycott of the elections on the assassination of Benazir, I suspected in a blog post earlier that he might have been a too quick to make this decision and even lauded the intent, but Zardari bailed him out, by thanking him for the show of support and urged him to reconsider the election boycott, this helped salvage his dignity. In this short period he has gained more support and in a free and fair elections he will sweep Punjab uprooting PML-Q and now the chances are better – but the condition is to have transparent elections.


Imran Khan in his endeavor to stand up to the bureaucracy urging for the restoration of Judiciary was without doubt a valiant effort, he lead by example, hoping the APDM will follow suit specially the voting strength of PML-N but his sacrifice was in vain when PML-N announced to fight the elections, leaving him high and dry. An extension of elections gives PTI a life-line, it might open an opportunity for new election papers and another chance to fight under a new political scenario where there could be a revival of an Anti-Musharraf coalition. PTI has seen a definite increase in their populous support as many saw Imran Khan as a matured politicians (though many believed his principled boycotting was a blunder) but with all this there is a chance he can win some seats in strategic locations or in an electoral alliance. PTI is at the moment trying to woo in the swing vote and hence will be in direct competition with PPP who comes in under the umbrella of a slain leader. PTI on the other hand can swing Anti-Musharraf sentiment and the Judiciary to its favor.

JUI-F and Jammat

Not much needs to be said about JUI-F as it runs on Musharraf’s stipend. But a probably delay might open the door for Jammat to return, MMA will not be its choice and instead it will be vying for an Anti-Musharraf electoral alliance throughout Pakistan

A lot has been said in this article and it must be remembered that the political situation changes on a moment to moment basis, hence at the dawn of a new year, the morning of January 1st 2008 this is how I see the present political scenario in Pakistan. I stand hopeful for Pakistan but resolute that