Pakistan elections: Analysts fear political uncertainty amid rigging allegations
Karachi, July 27: Political analysts in Pakistan fear choppy waters lie ahead for the politics in the country with several political heavyweights who have suffered defeat in their strongholds likely to band together amid allegations of rigging in the General elections.
The elections in Pakistan have produced some stunning upset results and many of the political parties who have suffered reversals continue to cry foul over the way the votes were counted and announced after long delays. According to the unofficial results announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) so far, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has won the majority seats (119) in the National Assembly to form the next government while a number of seasoned politicians suffered defeat in their traditional strongholds.
"The next few days will be critical for Pakistan politics. Because if the political parties who have come second best to PTI get together and launch a combined protest over the results, it could be a big challenge for Khan and his party,” analyst Omair Alavi said.
The PML-N has already rejected the election results despite securing a respectable 122 seats in the Punjab assembly and another 68 in the national assembly until Thursday evening. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) parliamentarians are also crying foul particularly after their Chairman, Bilawal Bhutto lost in one of their safest constituencies, Lyari area of Karachi to a PTI candidate.
Religious parties like the Jamiat Ulema Islam (Maulana Fazlur Rehman), the Khadim Hussain Shah led Tehreek-e-Labaik have also alleged foul play in the counting of votes and have threatened agitation. Maulana Fazlur Rehman an arch-rival of Khan and seasoned politician who also lost out in the elections has announced he will be inviting all parties for a conference soon to discuss the election results.
Bilawal Bhutto who also lost on a seat from Malakand in the KPK province but managed to win in his ancestral Larkana constituency on Thursday to enter the parliament for the first time said there was a clear conspiracy to ensure he lost on all three seats.
"Our party leadership will convene on Friday to discuss the situation and announce our next step,” Bilawal said after finishing behind the PTI and Pakistan Tehreek Labaik candidates in the final vote count. Lyari has always been considered one of the safest constituencies for the PPP with slain former prime minister, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and before her other party leaders always winning from Lyari so Bilawal’s defeat has shocked many.
PPP workers and leaders also held a protest outside the Karachi Press Club rejecting the election results while the Mutthaida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Pakistan leaders, Dr Farooq Sattar and Khalid Maqbool travelled to Islamabad to echo their grievances with the election commission of Pakistan. Sattar a senior leader of the MQM also lost in the elections from his home constituency to PTI candidate Aamir Liaquat Hussain while the MQM Pakistan suffered a major reversal when their candidate lost in the constituency that also covers the MQM 90 headquarters in Azizabad.
Sattar and Maqbool claimed that the results were engineered after polling ended and would ask for a recount of all polling stations where the MQM candidates contested. But many political analysts were not even giving MQM Pakistan a chance of winning the six NA seats after the party split into two groups last year due to the ban on founder, Altaf Hussain who remains exiled in London.
The MQM Pakistan's six NA and seven Sindh Assembly seats from Karachi are a far cry from previous elections when the MQM candidates used to sweep the NA and PA seats from the metropolitan city by big margins. Sattar who usually garnered over a 100 thousand votes from his home constituency in Karachi in previous elections on Wednesday managed to secure just 36,000 votes which he says is unthinkable and hard to accept while his rival, Aamir Liaquat got around 56,000 votes.
Another splinter group of the Altaf Hussain led MQM, the PSP anchored by former Karachi Mayor, Mustafa Kamal also failed to win any seats from the city. More astounding has been the poor results produced by religious parties in Wednesday’s elections namely the Tehreek Labbaik (TLP), the Pakistan Rah-e-Haq party an electoral platform for the outlawed Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ), Hafiz Saeed’s political front Milli Muslim League (MML) and the five party religious alliance, Mutthaida Majlis Amal (MMA) which comprised of the Jamaat-e-Islami, JUI F and others.
The MMA has managed some nine seats in the NA in the unofficial results but their performance in the four provincial assembly elections is not encouraging while the other religious platform candidates were blown away. The TLP is the same party which last year brought Islamabad to a halt when they staged a long sit-in over the Khatam-e-Nabuwat law. Interestingly, the PML N, PTI and PPPP had all assured support to Auranzeb Farooqi, a senior leader of the Rah-i-Haq party in the constituency he was contesting from in Karachi. The Rah-i-Haq party is seen as an offshoot of the outlawed Sipah-e-Sahaba party with Farooqi still facing number of cases.
TLP founder, Khadim Hussain Shah had promised big surprises and upsets in the elections in Karachi but this didn’t happen and this has left the party even threatening street protests. A political science professor, Dr Anwari Aziz, said the outcome of the elections showed that the common Pakistan voter did not have enough trust in the religious outfits and parties to vote them into power.
“In a way it is a very positive message sent out by Pakistan voters that they want peace and are peace loving people,” she said.
She noted that the international media and community had generally expressed concern over some outlawed extremist figures being allowed to contest the elections. A TLP leader, who requested not to be named, admits that they have learnt the hard way from the election that they need to properly mobilize their general work force and resources in the country.