There is a great degree of despondency among certain sections of population that things will remain unchanged even after the holding of fresh general elections, and this feeling has been somewhat reinforced by the result of the recent bye-election for NA-151 which former prime minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son Abdul Qadir Gilani won. It is claimed that the politics of Pakistan will remain dynastic, with power remaining within certain families though circulating among different members thereof. Letters have appeared in the press expressing this concern which some writers present as an established fact and not merely as an opinion which demonstrates the frustration of the masses with the goings on in our beloved country. Obviously, the elections would not be a panacea for all of Pakistan’s problems but I would join the panelists in demanding fresh elections because these would at least provide the people a chance to change the political landscape of the country. Having been squeezed to the limit, they may vote wisely, or at least less unwisely, at next elections. As for the election of Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani’s son from NA-151, the expert opinion is that bye-election results do not correctly portray the national sentiments and are more the result of local conditions which can be greatly influenced by the following of a particular person within a certain limited area. Moreover, at bye elections, full party machinery is used to make its candidate succeed which is not possible at the general elections where the party resources are distributed over a large number of constituencies. Another factor that could distinguish the forthcoming elections from the earlier ones is that this time round, there are some alternatives available at the national level in the form of Imran Khan’s emerging Tehreek-e-Insaaf, and Jamaat-e-Islami, which boycotted last elections but will participate most enthusiastically in the fresh elections. We also have got to keep in mind that despite receiving sympathy votes, PPP did not do all that well at the last elections and failed to secure even a simple majority in the national assembly, while its loyal opposition PML-N, the former heavy-mandate party, that did even worse. Peoples Party at the centre and some provinces, and PML-N governing the largest province of the country with more than half of total Pakistani population, have both failed utterly, with things having gone from bad to worse, in almost all sectors. Meanwhile the government has to its credit passing of certain legislation and NFC award but these measures have failed to translate into benefits for the masses and the city district government system, which worked wonders for Karachi, is also in the doldrums. Mass transit system and Karachi Circular Railway are also desperately needed projects for which even the dates for ground-breaking ceremony were announced, which passed uneventfully, despite the fact that Japanese funding at inexpensive rates was reported to be available. Conditions in the interior of Sindh are also deplorable. The overall condition in other provinces is much the same, or worse. All these factors serve to decrease the popularity, or rather increase the unpopularity of the parties in the government, thus improving the chances of new entrants in the forthcoming election, prominent among whom is the emerging PTI.All these factors just prove the point that early general elections are the only way out of the present state of total chaos. I hope the rulers arrange a peaceful transition through early elections, and do it soon.
Karachi, August 6.