The results of the much awaited general election are finally here and quite expectedly PTI supporters find them shocking. This is pretty understandable as they had high hopes – clean sweep in the election. However, there expectations were based on aspirations and not on ground realities. If they’ve been following the analysis, views of independent analysts and experts, they would’ve known already that nobody amongst the experts was predicting a clean sweep at all. In fact, they are surprised on the success of PTI in Khyber-Pakthunkwa and Punjab. Indeed, PTI has done great; high turn-out in the elections was only possible because of them. Following are few factors which should be kept in mind before we see the election results.
Many people, mostly PTI supporters, have been comparing PTI’s emergence in the political arena with Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s PPP of 1970. However, they tend to forget that situation was all different then. There was not a single party which was seen as a majority or national party. Except for PPP, no party had its access and representation in all areas of West Pakistan. On the other hand, there are many well established parties today which have reached all over Pakistan. PPP has its support in Sind, Punjab and Baluchistan while PML-N has strong support in Punjab, KPK and some areas of Sind. Although, PTI has been in the political area since 1996, the real entry of the party into the national politics was made on October 30, 2011 when it successfully held a rally at Minar-e-Pakistan. Its real political struggle has started since then. So, it was wrong to expect such a nascent party to sweep polls while contesting against giants like PPP and PML-N which have been making governments in the past. Still, the party has been able to wipe off ANP in Khyber-Pakthukhwa and PPPP in Punjab which is admirable.
Although, the party had been doing extensive preparations for the Election Day, it was still underprepared. For instance, it didn’t have enough persons for polling agents. Moreover, the volunteers who were posted near the polling stations were not trained well. Many voters didn’t cast their vote just because there was no one to guide them properly. Another factor which contributed to defeat in some constitutes was PTI’s focus on urban areas instead of rural. Winning statistics of PML-N clearly reveal that they got the winning vote chunk from rural areas. Moreover, Biradari system also played a vital role in splitting the vote. Firdous Ashiq Awan’s withdrawl in favour of PTI’s candidate also worked against the party as some voters changed their minds at the last moment. According to them, this was openly indicating that there has been some adjustment between PPP and PTI.
Despite the fact that PTI will have to sit in opposition in National assembly, it will likely make a government in KPK. This will provide the party an excellent opportunity to implement its vision and show the world what they are capable of. This will also give party a chance to be part of the system which will help them in next elections. KPK is the most violence-struck province of the country and is in dire need of peace. PTI’s stance on TTP will also come under scrutiny. In the national assembly, it is likely to play a role of vibrant opposition which will give a tough time to PML-N.
Another positive aspect has been the voter turnout. According to latest reports, the turnout remained over 60% – 2nd highest in Pakistan’s history. The credit for such high turnout definitely goes to PTI which mobilized youth. Party’s entry into the national politics has also ended the two decades old dual party system of Pakistan which is going to be beneficial for the country. An aspect which has been overlooked by the party’s supporter is that PTI’s candidate have not been defeated by huge margins. So, blaming ‘Punjabis’ that didn’t vote for PTI would be wrong. The commendable aspect is that it won seats without indulging in rigging. Not a single complaint has been filed against any of the PTI’s candidate.
For disappointed PTI supporters, change has not come but it has started. Today, it stands as the second largest party in the national assembly which is no small feat. If it performs well during the next few years, it will certainly be in a position to get more seats. Few things which have personally disappointed me a lot has been their reaction to the results. If they consider themselves as followers of a democratic leader, they should accept the decision of the people instead of getting pessimistic.
And one last thing, PTI supporters have missed this fact: In 1987’s world cup, Pakistan’s cricket team under Imran Khan lost the semi-final to Australia by 18 runs. Consider this your 1987 moment!