To win the battle Sharif needs a two third majority

February 7, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan , POLITICS

Reuters photo

 

By

Imad Zafar

 

The crowds for recent gatherings in support of Nawaz Sharif in Peshawar and Muzaffarabad were unprecedented and unexpected, even the critics surprised to see such a massive and charged crowd. Sharif has addressed five public gatherings in a very short time in different cities and each saw a massive rise in the numbers of public participation.

The conspiracy to oust Sharif from the political horizon has backfired and he is becoming more powerful and popular with each passing day. The gatherings he addressed in Peshawar, the strong base of rival Imran Khan, and in the capital of the Pakistani side of Kashmir, were the largest in the past few decades. Sharif’s narrative is actually being liked by the masses and they in turn are responding positively to it.

‘Give respect to my vote’ and ‘Why was Sharif disqualified?’ are the popular slogans which are disturbing the shrewd men operating behind the scenes. They successfully conspired and threw Sharif out of office but his defiance and never say die attitude completely turned the tables. It is Sharif who is all set to win the next general elections convincingly and it seems the script writer who wrote the removal of Sharif script has lost it all.

This is something extraordinary as the longest propaganda campaign of almost four years, the ugliest of all religious cards and the threat to national security has not proven effective in undermining Sharif. Of course the forces who are the instigators of the minus/remove Sharif formula will not sit silently and it will not be a cake walk for him to proceed further. It does however seem that Sharif is aware of this and has in fact been one step ahead of his visible and invisible opponents. Whether he will continue to ride this wave of luck and success against the invisible forces still remains a question though as the invisible forces have never lost a battle with any political leader in Pakistan.

 

The invisible forces still have some tricks in their arsenal however and will be waiting for the result of the NAB cases against Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz. They can wait for the caretaker setup to be put in place and then use the law enforcement agencies to arrest Sharif and his daughter. After all, an election campaign without Sharif or his daughter being the faces will have a negative impact on the electorates in Punjab, but to arrest Sharif can trigger a massive protest and law and order situation across the country. So this option is not feasible for the invisible forces and Mr Khan.

The other option is to keep the process of political engineering going on and try to grab the electables from Sharif’s PMLN. The invisible forces have done it successfully in Baluchistan with the help of Asif Zardari, but whether or not they will be able to repeat this in Punjab remains highly doubtful. The reality on the ground in Punjab is totally different from Baluchistan. Unlike Baluchistan, where the Sardars and Nawabs win on their own in elections, it is almost impossible for even electables in Punjab to win without the party affiliation or the backing of the party in elections. In the past the electables, aware of the situation, used to change their loyalties and felt comfortable in aligning with the establishment, it thought that whoever the establishment was supporting would win easily.

But the results of the general elections of 2013 ended this perception of a guaranteed win by aligning with the invisible forces. Mr Khan’s party was fully backed by the invisible forces and many of the electables joined him assuming that the political party backed by them would win easily. Contrary to expectation and past record, the results surprised many pundits and politicians. Sharif almost grabbed a one third majority and Mr Khan was not able to win more than 27 National assembly seats. It was a setback for the invisible forces as Sharif at that time was not in any confrontational mood, nor was he was building an anti-establishment narrative.

So if Sharif was able to grab a majority in the National Assembly and the two other provinces in 2013, then this time with a strong anti-establishment narrative and riding on a wave of sympathy and popularity, he will surely not be defeated by the conventional tactic of engineering elections. This leaves the battle in favor of Sharif, and the electables knowing this fact are unlikely to change their loyalties as no one wants to lose ties with a party and leader who still has the best chance of coming into power for a fourth time.

 

The opposition with almost no narrative of their own are harmless and will not be effective in the elections against Sharif. It is likley that the invisible forces, unlike the past, chose the wrong pawns. Mr. Khan was never a mature politician and still has not learnt this art. He was given the task of conquering Punjab, the strong fort of Sharif, but with all the backing from the invisible forces and big media houses he was not able to damage Sharif’s electoral strength and popularity. Though he was helped by other pawns like Tahir-ul-Qadri and Molvi Khadim Rizvi, he was not able to achieve any result and in the end it had to be the old and trusted weapon of disqualification which worked in favor of the invisible forces for a few months.

As Sharif regained his support in masses this decision too has lost its effect on electoral politics. Asif Zardari is the new pawn in the game for the invisible forces but with the baggage of bad governance and corruption he is not likely to be the man who can put a fight to Sharif in the upcoming elections. It leaves the field open for Sharif as he will be facing very weak pawns in the form of Imran Khan and Asif Zardari.

It does not mean that the invisible forces are out of the game however, they only need to manage a few of the National Assembly seats in the upcoming elections so Sharif cannot get an absolute majority. A simple majority for Sharif will not badly hurt the invisible forces though, nor will Sharif be able to amend laws and reverse his disqualification from Parliament.

For Sharif an electoral win does not mean a simple majority, he needs to win big, at least a two third majority. If Sharif can somehow get seats from KPK, which he is very capable of, then he can certainly do so, but whether or not he will be allowed to be the face of PMLN in the election campaign still remains the million dollar question. Even Fatima Jinnah, the sister of the founding father of the nation, was not able to win against the invisible forces and if Sharif can do it he will be making a new and decisive history for the country.

It is not about winning the game anymore, it is about getting an absolute majority for Sharif, whereas the invisible forces only need to stop Sharif from getting an absolute majority. The war is entering the interesting stages as Sharif is enjoying the popularity of his lifetime and the invisible forces are trying to make it more difficult for him to get the desired result.

The invisible forces have the power and resources and the experience of creating heroes and anti-heroes, they can topple anyone at any given time, and the recent demise of the PMLN-led government is an example in this regard. Will the invisible forces be able to manage the constituencies and voters of Sharif’s fort in Punjab, this remains the question.

For Sharif the masses are buying his narrative, showing him their support and he is charged to take on the invisible forces and play the decisive round of battle. Sharif has nothing to lose right now as he has already been disqualified by the controversial judicial decision so the chances are that he will emerge victor from this battle.

In fact, if he is somehow not able to win, he has still created a narrative that will not be defeated in years to come. ‘Give respect to my vote and to the ballot’ is the slogan that is echoing everywhere in the country and this is already a win for Sharif as no one has been able to create such an effective and popular anti-establishment narrative in recent times. It is not a question of who will win the next general elections anymore, it is only about will Sharif be able to win an absolute majority or not?

 

 

 

 

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar

Imad Zafar is a journalist based in Lahore. He is a regular Columnist/Commentator in newspapers. He is associated with TV channels, radio, newspapers, news agencies, political, policies and media related think tanks.

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