In view of Gujrat by-elections, PPP should jump out of PML-N’s catboat – by Shafiq Awan

Punjab’s ruling coalition earned nothing but embarrassment in the Gujrat by-elections. In fact the federal and Punjab governments – with all the resources and each other’s support – failed to wipe the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid out from the political scene.

The PML-Q came out of the polls with charges of rigging and refused to accept the results. But, for the first time in the country’s history, National Identity Card-checking machines were introduced by the PML-N and the Election Commission was silent over this situation. Who allowed the PML-N’s polling agents to carry these machines in the polling stations and perform the job of the Election Commission? The question remains unanswered.

Although the PML-N and the PPP duo managed to win the general elections but jointly they could not maintain their vote bank in the by-elections. It is an eye opener for the ruling coalition in Punjab. The PML-N should analyse the situation that if the PPP had not come to its rescue, the results might have been different.

This could be a disturbing situation for both the PPP and the PML-N in the context of the upcoming local governments elections when the PPP, the PML-N and the PML-Q will be in the race along with other groups. The results of those elections may not come out as desired.

The PML-N and PPP were expecting a landslide victory with a margin of over 70 percent votes against the PML-Q. However, both parties were unable to convince voters to come to the polling stations, resulting in a low turnout. Even after a low turnout, the PML-N was expecting 40,000 votes in its favour.

A senior leaguer disclosed the close victory margin had shaken the Sharifs’ confidence and Nawaz Sharif had asked the party to find out the reasons: whether the voters were displeased with the PML-N and the PPP’s coalition or the PML-Q was gaining sympathies.

The PML-N’s top leadership was not at all satisfied with the results and urged the Punjab league to do better homework before jumping in the local governments elections.

In the general elections, candidates of the PML-N and the PPP jointly bagged 43,000 votes while the PML-Q’s vote count was 11,700. In the by-elections, the PML-N and the PPP coalition could only manage to bag 27,439 votes, while the PML-Q got double their vote count.

PML-N Senator Parvez Rashid claimed that voters in by-elections usually did not cast votes with the same spirit that is witnessed in the general elections. But he had no answer to how the PML-Q managed to double its vote count in the elections in which voters were “least interested”. The reason is obvious: voters are not satisfied with the PML-N-led coalition in Punjab. Credibility of both the parties has been marred in these elections.

But what has the PPP gained by supporting the PML-N, since PML-N MNA Khawaja Saad Rafiq, in a TV show, said they could not convince PPP voters to come out and vote for them. The PPP should not be surprised if one day the PML-N claims victory in Gujrat all by itself.

There were also reports that women had been tortured and their clothes stripped off. Calling the provincial coalition an “unholy alliance”, Marvi Memon could not keep away her tears while narrating the torture.

Being aware of politics in Gujrat, these elections would lead to new hostilities and cost human lives. In Gujrat, over 3,000 including politicians were killed in clashes and deaths were reported in double figures at a single event to settle scores.

Being a senior, the PPP should have not supported the PML-N in the Gujrat by-elections as it ditched them in the Fort Abbas by-polls and supported the PML-Zia. The PPP only earned a bad name through this and nothing else.

The PML N’s claims of being the heirs of Punjab were also dampened in these elections. The PPP should revamp its strategy to strengthen itself in Punjab instead of sailing in the PML-N’s catboat.

Source: Daily Times



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