The 2018 General Elections are only one-and-a-half month away. For many people, the upcoming polls are one of the most anticipated and awaited elections in the history of Pakistan. The reason behind this anticipation is very clear: it will be the last elections form any old political players.
If things continue like this until2023, many influential political leaders may not remain as influential as they are today. Although there is no concept of retirement in politics, the reality is a bit different. History tells us that every rise has a fall. The twilight of many influential political leaders has begun. In this regard, the general elections are extremely important for all our political parties, and especially for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which is expected to form a government in the centre for the first time.
During the last week, the party finalised its candidates for more than 300 national and provincial assembly seats. The party ignored some of its older, and more genuine political workers. It can easily be observed that the preference has been given to candidates who hold a strong political influence in their constituencies.
This has made the situation both interesting and terrible, simultaneously. It is interesting because this time PTI has been able to launch some serious electoral candidates, who could help the party win more seats. The situation is tragic because the party is also sidelining its own people. PTI’s leadership found itself in a similar dilemma during the 2013 elections, as well.
Although PTI always claims that it lost the 2013 polls due to rigging, the reality is they lost because they didn’t know how to play the election game. This time around, they are going for any and all candidates that can secure them a win, and this decision is most practical
PTI’s current conundrum has initiated a debate over tickets and who they should be allotted to. Has ideological politics truly finished in Pakistan? The truth is strange, but it is the truth. In last two to three decades, Pakistani politics has evolved.
For example, the involvement of money and financial resources has badly affected politics in the country. Even an ideological entity like Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has not been able to protect itself from this problem. If you have money then you have influence and if you have influence then you can get votes. Therefore, some people will have tickets because of their power, not because of their principles. Their families have dominated their respective constituencies for many years. They manipulate the people due to their financial and political power.
The situation worsens when we analyse the backward areas of the country. The Lagaris, Khosas, Makhdooms, Doltanas, Bughtis, Marris, Arbabs and Sherazis are the prime examples. These families are scattered all over Pakistan. From Khyber Pakhtun khwa to Sindh, we can see and witness their power. Interestingly, they get their respective share in every government. In last general elections, almost 70to 80independent candidates won the elections, and joined the Pakistan Muslim League – Noon (PML-N) later on.
Now the question is what will happen during the upcoming general elections. Will PTI, which has given importance to these candidates, actually be able to win with their help?
In the last general elections, PTI had not relied on such candidates. Although PTI always claimed that they lost due to rigging, the reality is that they lost because they did not know how to play the game.
PTI has a stronger case this time around because of its candidate selection. PTI can be criticisedfor ignoring some of its ideological workers, but their decision to go with electable candidates looks practical.
It is a sad truth that the nexus of power politics, financial resources and democracy isgetting stronger with every passing day; and due to this, it looks like democracy will take time to flourish properly in Pakistan.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in Daily Times, June 16th 2018.