IPCS Discussion: Pakistan Elections 2013
06 Jun, 2013 · 3980
Portia B Conrad reports on the discussion on the challenges facing Pakistan in the aftermath of the elections
Portia B. ConradResearch Intern
Theme I: Election Results - An Introduction and Performance of Political Parties
D. Suba Chandran
Whether the Pakistan elections 2013 were free and fair is questionable. The victory of the PML-N signifies the return of the Sharifs into the mainstream and the steep fall of the PPP. The emerging PTI was neither a phenomenon nor a bubble. The ANP on the other hand could be described as rubble and the MQM seemed to be confused. The religious parties did not have much of a role to play but one cannot conclude
that they are insignificant.
The Pakistan elections 2013 were definitely rigged. There were biased reservations, for instance, women reservations were mostly wives, mistresses, sisters or girl friends of established politicians. Every province had its own upperhand and disadvantages. In the case of Imran Khan, his win had its impact in its own way, especially for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. There has been a rise of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa map
Theme II: Provincial Roundup - Elections and the Four Provinces
Ajay Darshan Behera
In Punjab there was a situation where the PPP could not feature anywhere vis-à-vis the PML-N and the PTI. There is now a different configuration of political power of the parties. In 2008 the PPP got 17 seats in Southern Punjab and 2 this time. Was it the PTI then who took the seats? Not really, the PTI campaigned only in urban Punjab. The fact that the PML-N has taken over the seats, especially rural, makes one wonder whether it is a real shift or due to the liberty it got while campaigning. The stark reality is that, the one who controls the Punjab province can handle the National Assembly seats. The PML-Q has almost withered away.
In the Sindh provincial Assembly there are one hundred and fifty eight seats. This time there was a fifty four per cent turnout. In the National Assembly, there were two seats that the PML-N acquired from the Sindh province and the PPP twenty nine. There are four major crises in Sindh that one must take a note of: ethnic violence, political violence which can be perceived in two senses – criminal network and party violence and lastly the sectarian violence which obviously rises from the Shia-Sunni divide. Population again is a major factor in this province and there has been a considerable increase in it over the years. From the 1998 census till date there is an increase of 8 per cent (from 14 to 22 per cent).
The voting pattern was very unique in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where the PTI swept to a victory and the ANP came second with four seats. The number of votes does not match the number of seats acquired. This makes it very difficult for one to understand Pakistani politics. It is very unclear whether the PTI has had a cake walk in this region for this election. Due to the anti-incumbency and lapses of aim factors, it cannot be concluded whether only one party reigned here. Based on this fragmented electorate, the new provincial government may not deliver much. Five years of Zardari has been a blessing to Pakistan. He created the platform to democratize Pakistan.
Balochistan being the largest province, it has fourteen seats at the General Assembly. Post the elections the PML-N had won only one seat but with most independent candidates giving in, today it has six seats. Amongst these fourteen seats there were three very interesting seats where more than fifty percent polling took place – two on the Pakhtun belt and one on Sindh. Chunks of Baloch polling have been a failure too. A significant factor is not a single Baloch has won from Quetta. This highlights its ethnic conflicts that have had great impact on the elections. A Pakhtun Chief Minister in a Baloch dominated region could create havoc was a smart realisation by the parties. Also, the ‘Forward Bloc’ concept is very popular here when a section of a mainstream political party breaks off.
Theme III: Internal Challenges for The New Regime: Violence, Economy and Civil-Military Relations
For Nawaz Sharif, power shortage is definitely the biggest challenge in order to control the economy but there are other factors as well. The economy has been in a terrible state for the last two decades, reaching its worst in the 1990s. Pakistan’s failure to expand the viable export base for other manufactures has left the country in shatters. Low growth rate and inflation has worsened the situation with last year record being 13.5 per cent. Important challenges for the new regime in terms of the economy also include tax evasion, the issue of Foreign Direct Investment and reforming public sector companies which are having due loses. The economy is highly dependent on the IMF and its personal loan scheme called Extended Fund Facility.
History shows certain traits of Nawaz Sharif – there is always an authoritarian streak that always comes forward whenever accentuated by a popular mandate. In the past, he has managed to successfully move away from the army’s clutch with a base in Punjab. He has always had faith on old bureaucrats. The Army’s priority concern is to ensure there is no undue interference and control key security and foreign policy parameters. The Army promotions and postings could be the second area of concern. The civilian capacity to attempt undue retribution of past mistakes is third. Potential conflict areas of civil-military relationship could be on how to deal with the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban, formulation of a national security plan and appointment of the new Army Chief in the light of the role of the new President.
THEME IV: External Challenges and Foreign Policy: Afghanistan and India
Prof PR Chari
The recent elections in Pakistan were deeply flawed. It was held in the shadows of the extremist guard. At the end of the day it was a fragmented mandate within four states. The Baloch nationalism and the Pashtun influences in Karachi were suitable factors for the Islamic parties and the Pakistana. Issues like the Kashmir dispute, Indo-Pak relations and nuclear capacity are not just important to political leaders but
to the fundamentalists as well. Nawaz Sharif has intuitions for such things. Both with PM Gujaral and PM Bajpai of India, he maintained cordial relations. China could be a very important factor between Indo-Pak relations but there are no reasons to be pessimistic otherwise.
Neither political nor economic factors hold well between Pakistan and Afghanistan but security reasons, keeping Taliban in mind. The Taliban are insurgents not in the classical sense of the word but morally. They are willing to negotiate but are determined to come back to power. Capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) have increased over a period of time. The NATO plays an important role in this region. Certain challenges that the Pakistan Government faces from Afghanistan include the repudiation by Afghanistan of the Af-Pak border, the Pakistan blame on Afghanistan for sheltering the Pakistani insurgent groups like Radio Mullah Fazlullah and the NSM. Traditionally Afghanistan has had a cozy relationship with India and this fact is deeply resented by the Pakistan Army and the ISI in particular.
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