Election in Pakistan: What Is at Stake?
Today, the Pakistanis are voting in a crucial poll that is closely contested by major political parties. The parliamentary election in Pakistan is set to form a new government in the country which is facing multiple challenges regarding the security challenges, the economy and the crisis in Afghanistan. The major parties contesting for seats in the parliament are Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League (n) (PML-N) led by Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) led by once cricketer Imran Khan. Most probably, the ruling Pakistan People’s Party is going to lose by a small margin to other parties particularly to the Muslim League Pakistan (n) and Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf.
However, no party is believed to be in a position to have a simple majority in the lower house of the Pakistan’s parliament and thus there may be no clear winner to form the next government in the country. Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf is set for its first major victory since it was established seventeen years ago. This would provide Imran Khan’s party to enter negotiations for forming the new government. The most likely winner is Pakistan Muslim League (n) (PML-N), however, it is not likely for the party to be able winning a simple majority in Pakistan’s lower house of parliament.
The recent election campaigns have been the deadliest in Pakistan’s history as the Taliban and other terrorist outfits carried out frequent attacks on more secular parties of Pakistan. More than hundred have been killed in election campaigns in recent months. In addition to all these, the election is going to determine the future power structure in Islamabad as the country is facing sever economic problems and energy crisis. As the more moderate and secular PPP is losing a foothold in Pakistan’s power structure, tow other major parties, that are making their way into power, are taking a more sympathetic stance towards the Taliban and other extremist groups.
Despite that the foreign policies of the major contenders are not much different it seems that the Taliban are more comfortable with the PML-N and Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf. As the Pakistanis are going to the polls, there is much at stake for not only Afghanistan but also for the AfPak joint war against terrorist groups based in Pakistan. Some politicians in Pakistan who are making their way into power do not believe in the real threat that is posed by Taliban and other terrorist outfits such Haqqani Network for both neighboring countries. The election is also of crucial importance for the ongoing efforts to persuade Taliban leaders to come negotiations the peace plan aimed to settle the long-lasting conflict in Afghanistan.
The peace efforts are yet to bear any results and the operation and safe havens of the terrorist groups in Pakistani soil is untouched. Yet, the relations between Afghanistan is further strained due to the recent border incursions by Pakistan and the failure of talks between Islamabad and Kabul over the peace negotiations with insurgent groups. These all indicate what is at stake is for the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan as Islamabad is preparing for new power structure.