As they say, “It is easy to win over something, but the grave challenge lies in retaining what has been attained” Real victory lies in sustainability. It will not be an exaggeration to state that success time-lined for a short-term vanishing over the defined period, perhaps, does not and cannot account for a lasting victory.What matters the most at the end of the day, after all, is sustenance in the longer run; since that triggers the desired beneficial outcomes.Rest assured, something lost in midway cannot take us to our objective destination. As aforementioned standardis universal, its relevance is not restricted to one, rather applies to all spheres of life, as we know it; including politics. Attaining an overwhelming majority in general election 2018, PTI led by Prime Minister Imran Khan went on to form governments in the center, and the provinces of Punjab, KPK, and Baluchistan through potential political alliances with so-called like-minded parties.Although they remained at each other’s throat in the past. Necessity, however, is the mother of all compromises. With completion of two months of governance since the present government, assemblies, and cabinets (both federal as well as provincial) took oath, and charge of the country’s dire state of affairs, came the by-elections held on October 14, 2018.Whereas the government, inclusive of the ruling PTI along with coalition parties, although hiccupping all along the rough ride of governance till date throughout remained confident of her yet another victorious emergence in the by-elections, so was the opposition in hopes for the same. But this is the very politics to its core; where all parties irrespective of their performance, and public standing make tall claims over their post-election victory. The by-elections were to be contested over 35 National and Provincial Assembly constituencies either vacated by candidates victorious in the general election, or due to the postponement of election in certain constituencies. Although the results of the by-elections do not influence the government structure at any level, since the numbers being fought over are not sufficient enough, but they do set possible precedents for the future political course the country might take.Their significance, hence, cannot, and is not ignored by any political entity. With its conduct on Sunday, and the results reported after vote count, the by-elections 2018 apparently have tilted in favor of the opposition parties, primarily PML (N), and should be nothing less than an eye opener for the amateur PTI government. Ignoring the results in view of their lack of influence on existing governmental structure would, perhaps, not be advisable at this point in time. Out of 11 NA seats, PML (N) secured 4, PTI 4, PML(Q) 2, and MMA 1. The ruling party failed to retain three (3) key NA seats that it had secured in the July 25, 2018 general election. As per the results, it has lost NA-131 (Lahore) to PML (N)’s Saad Rafique who secured a lead of approximately 10,000 votes over the rival Humayun Akhtar Khan who ended up with 50,155 votes. The former federal minister had lost this seat to Imran Khan after a nail biting contest in general election. A critical constituency to lose for the ruling party, despite considering the fact that the victorious Saad Rafique is undergoing a NAB investigation at present. While the by-election results will not have an impact on the present governance structure, it certainly signifies a shift in public perception that apparently does not go in favor of the government Likewise, PTI’s Khurram Ali Khan lost critical NA-156(Attock) to PML (N)’s Malik Sohail who easily secured a victory by a comfortable lead of 35,000 votes.PTI’s Major(R) Tahir Sadiq had previously won over the constituency against the same contender from PML (N). Zahid Akram Durrani of MMA, son of former KPK Chief Minister Akram Khan Durrani, also managed to pull over a victory against PTI’s nominated candidate in NA-35 (Bannu).The former had lost this seat to PTI chief Imran Khan in general election. At provincial level, similarly, PTI had vacated six provincial assembly seats, but only managed to win back three of them, losing two to PML (N) which secured a total of five (5) provincial seats, retaining three (3) while winning over two (2) new. PML (N) secured all four (4) seats from its stronghold Lahore, reiterating its popularity among the masses. While the by-election results will not have an impact on the present governance structure, it certainly signifies a shift in public perception that apparently does not go in favor of the government. The reluctance to vote for PTI, very much possibly, originated from government’s backtracking on its longing principle stands, and promises to the nation made during the electoral campaign, and merely blaming the past government(s) for the hapless economic situation. The public voted PTI in for driving the country out of crisis, and not merely highlighting that who is responsible for the problems. Ironically, resorting to the latter approach, PTI this time seemingly could not manage to convince its voters to vote in favour of the party, contrary to which PML (N) succeeded in mobilizing its voters which made the decisive difference at the end of the day. What is astonishing to note here is that the public barely took two months to judge the government’sperformance, and voted otherwise. This aberration not only is an eye opener for the ruling party, but all political stakeholders. The nation’s criterion to judge a party is, perhaps, crystal clear now; it’s not mere words, rather concrete actions that deliver on the promises made back and forth. In this age of free media, and information, the public is well aware of the democratic power it holds. They know if they can make governments, they can break them as well; all through democratic means. The government must wake up to this reality check, and rather than misdirecting its energies towards attempting to cover up the suffered defeat, it must acknowledge the loopholes in governance, and work towards making things, that have wronged her in the public’s eye, right. Failing to do so five years down the line, the government might very well suffer a clean sweep having to pack up its bags, leaving the dream of Naya Pakistan at mercy of the old one. The writer is an Islamabad based freelance opinion writer and columnist Published in Daily Times, October 17th 2018.