A reversal of fortunes?

The results of three by-polls for the National Assembly were quite surprising for many political pundits. The PML-N, which suffered a defeat in a provincial assembly seat in Sargodha’s PP-34 by-poll last month, was able to turn the tables this time around by winning the election in the same district’s NA-68. In Lodhran’s NA-155, an independent candidate, who had the backing of the PML-N, won the by-poll while the PML-N lost to the PPP in Gujranwala’s NA-100. To the casual observer, this might not be of importance but in political circles, these by-polls results have many angles to them. Though the PML-N has only won one seat in its own name, it was backing another independent candidate who won as well, making it two out of three for them. The PPP, on the other hand, has only managed to bag one seat.

PPP’s central information secretary Fauzia Wahab has accused the PML-N of rigging the by-polls. Ms Wahab has said that the PPP has evidence of the rigging, which will be presented to the Election Commission. Now these are serious charges. They can be either the normal loser’s plaint or carry some weight. Those who think that the PPP did not fare well in the by-elections because of their governance or lack thereof should keep in mind that the PML-N’s governance in Punjab has not been much of a success either. If anything, the PML-N has lost credibility in the only province that has been its stronghold for many years due to the chief minister’s high and mighty approach to running Punjab. The natural trajectory of incumbency makes it difficult for all governments, be they federal or provincial, to return to the electorate successfully. This sudden reversal of fortunes for the PML-N raises suspicions about these results. Of course there is always the caste, clan and biradari factor that plays a role locally, especially in Punjab, but even this is no guarantee of victory. If the ‘angels’ have actually been at work, it is for the Election Commission to decide the matter after the PPP files a plea in this regard.

Now that 47 parliamentarians’ degrees have been declared fake, there are more by-polls in the offing. These by-polls may hold the interest of the voters of the area, but the results would not be on the priority list of most people because of the situation in the country. Pakistan is going through a tough phase, what with the floods, target killings in Karachi, and terrorism. It is hoped that both the PPP and the PML-N also get their priorities right instead of being fixated on their rivalry.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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