On October 30, 2011, Imran Khan organised a mammoth public meeting at the Minar-e-Pakistan monument in Lahore. PTI’s decision to hold this gathering in Lahore, which is considered one of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s strongholds, was a very bold political move. The public showed up in droves. This meeting created a country-wide impression that Imran Khan would go on to form the next government. It was for this reason that many more politicians, who were previously affiliated with other parties, started joining the PTI. Of those politicians, Javed Hashmi, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, and Jehangir Tareen are names worth mentioning. Sadly, the PTI did not succeed in maintaining its momentum and popularity for the following one and a half years. However, despite the public’s waning interest, the PTI polled 7.6 million in the 2013 general elections, standing second in terms of votes.Public perception is a very important element in politics. It ultimately decides the electoral fate of any political party. A few months ago, after the Panama scandal, PML-N’s popularity started plunging and people began to believe that the party would not survive until the upcoming elections. They assumed the party would ultimately fracture into several splinter groups. Those people who associate themselves with politics, whether as councillors or as members of the National Assembly, all want to be part of the political party with the clearest prospect of coming into power in the future. In a large part of the democratic world, and Pakistan in particular, the voter thinks similarly by casting their vote based on their assumption of who will be the winning party. No one wants to waste a vote on a losing party. Last month, on January 17, 2018, the Joint Opposition held a protest meeting at Mall Road in Lahore. It was an utter failure. Over 20 political parties, including PTI, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), the Pak Sarzamin Party (PSP), Sunni Tehreek (ST), and Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen, among others, participated in the event. Former President Asif Ali Zardari, Opposition Leader Khursheed Shah, PAT Chief Tahirul Qadri, JI Secretary General Liaqat Baloch, PSP Head Mustafa Kamal, Sheikh Rashid, Raja Nasir Abbas, Hamid Raza, Abul Khair Zubair, and other political leaders addressed the public. The political leaders censured the government and demanded that the culprits involved in the Model Town tragedy be brought to the court of law. However, of the 20,000 chairs at the meeting venue, one third remained empty.Prior to the protest meeting, there was a general impression that this meeting would turn into a sit-in, which after a few days would lead to the end of the PML-N provincial and federal governments, finishing with a call for general elections before the Senate elections. But the opposition failed miserably, only managing to assemble a fraction of the expected crowd. This proved to be the last nail in the coffin of the anti-PML-N wave which had started after Mian Nawaz Sharif was dethroned. Opposition’s failed Lahore protest proved to be the last nail in the coffin for the anti-PML-N wave which had started after Mian Nawaz Sharif was dethronedThere was a noted change in the political atmosphere after this. Nawaz Sharif, had to suffer a host of appearances in court after his disqualification. Instead of being defensive, he adopted an aggressive political discourse. Because of Mian Sahib’s strategy, the people, who had no love for the PML-N, but were against the supremacy of the undemocratic forces in Pakistan, also lent their support to the PML-N. The party’s public processions are gaining momentum with each passing day, while its rivals are losing public support. Recently, the former senator of the PML-Q, Mushahid Hussain Sayed, an astute and intelligent politician, joined the PML-N. This is testimony to the fact that the popularity of the PML-N is rising.By and large, there are several reasons behind the public’s affinity towards the PML-N. The situation in Karachi was very volatile in 2013, but peace returned to the port city during the PML-N’s tenure. The PML-N government claims to have almost succeeded in resolving the electricity crisis that has been haunting Pakistan for years. The power situation looks as though it will continue to improve in the coming months. The PML-N has carried out record development work across the country, particularly in Punjab and Lahore. Most importantly, according to Transparency International, the level of corruption has dropped significantly since 2013. All of this is significant enough to sway Pakistani voters towards the PML-N. If this level of popularity continues, with no more convictions against the Sharif family and no major upsets taking place, then the PML-N will succeed in gaining much more votes in the upcoming general elections than in the previous one.Despite their successes, there have also been some colossal mistakes committed by the PML-N. For instance, it has not reformed the judicial system, especially the subordinate courts. It has not delegated power to local governments, choosing instead to weaken them. It has also failed to focus its attention on legislation regarding constitutional and legal affairs. The incumbent government has allowed its allies to blackmail them into inaction on the issues of mainstreaming the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the repatriation of Afghan refugees. Moreover, compared with the interest they showed in the development of Central Punjab or Lahore, the government has not taken much interest in the development works in South Punjab, causing an increasing sense of exploitation and deprivation there. The PML-N has also failed to focus enough attention on the health and education sectors.However, if the performance of the Punjab government were to be compared with the performance of other provincial governments, its performance has been better on all fronts. The PTI and PPP governments lag far behind the PML-N in delivering development and improvement to their provinces. The writer hosts a current affairs talk show on PTV News. Follow him on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/syedzishanhyderPublished in Daily Times, February 18th 2018.