Senate Polls: A victory for Sharif and democratic forces

March 6, 2018 Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , Pakistan , POLITICS

Reuters photo

 

By

Imad Zafar

 

Finally the senate elections were held in Pakistan and as a result PML-N became the single largest party in the senate. Given the circumstances, the PML-N-backed candidates winning is a boost for Nawaz Sharif and his party. After all, the move to disqualify Sharif from his party presidency just before the senate polls, has backfired as Sharif’s nominated candidates won the desired numbers of seats even being deprived of the party ticket as a result of Sharif’s disqualification. This actually means that Sharif has pushed the invisible forces to the back foot.

The senate polls however were surrounded with ‘horse trading’ allegations where different members of the assembly sold their loyalties for money and other benefits. The horse trading and selling of loyalties has brought a bad name to the democratic process and one hopes that Parliament in future addresses this issue by changing the current procedure of the senate elections or by bringing a legislation against horse trading so it can be stopped in the next elections. But nevertheless holding a senate election at a time when a fragile democracy is trapped in conspiracies from both the visible and invisible forces is a milestone in itself.

While Sharif’s PML-N emerged as the single largest party, Asif Ali Zardari’s People Party (PPP) also managed to grab a good number of seats. It was a poor show, as always, from Imran Khan’s PTI party with Khan not even bothering to turn up and vote for his candidates in the National Assembly. This clearly states that Mr Khan is frustrated and has learnt that he can never come to power through political means, so is banking heavily on the help of invisible forces to somehow win him the game.

The point Mr Khan is not able to understand is that the invisible forces, after seeing his poor performance in recent years, have also given a supporting hand to Zardari. The process of hijacking Baluchistan’s Provincial assembly where the PML-N provincial government was dislodged and their majority turned into a minority was the result of invisible forces joining hands with Zardari. Zardari is not the favorite of the invisible forces but if he can still give them the desired results why should the invisible forces not be lending him a hand? This can change the situation for Mr Khan as if Zardari is given good backing in the coming elections by invisible forces a hung parliament will result and likely decrease the chances of Mr Khan becoming prime minister.

 

For Sharif and the PML-N the results of the Senate polls are a huge relief, unlike in the past this time members of the assemblies did not defect nor change their loyalties on the pressure of the invisible forces. Instead they chose to stand by Sharif and his party who are under the wrath these days from a segment of the establishment. It is actually a paradigm shift as far as Punjab is concerned, traditionally a pro-establishment province, its member of assemblies for the first time voted against the narrative of the establishment, the voters already showing dissent too, something we have seen in the results of the by-polls in Punjab.

In the past it was not possible for the political forces to go against the establishment and score a win in National Assembly polls or Senate polls. We have seen how in the Musharraf regime, Brigadier Mehdi and his agencies played a role in manipulating the elected representatives to get the desired result and they got their man Zafarullah Khan Jamali elected as prime minister with the lead of only one vote and without having the desired majority in the assembly.

So becoming the largest party in the senate and to be in a position where the PML-N can bring their own senate chairman with the help of allies and independent candidates is by no means an ordinary achievement. If the PML-N government was not toppled in the province of Baluchistan and their members not pressurized to change loyalties, the PML-N could have won seven additional seats in the Senate, which could have resulted in not banking on any of the independent candidate to bring their chairman into the senate. Even if the PML-N does not bring its own chairman, it is still in pole position and will play a vital role in the election for the chairman of the senate.

 

The fact that Sharif and his party still remain in this position reminds us again of the reality that the fate of politicians can never be decided through the courts, nor can they be eliminated or removed by the courts or invisible forces. The results Sharif’s PML-N has achieved in the senate polls are not according to the desire of the establishment. After toppling the PML-N government in Baluchistan through Zardari and then getting the decision for Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification as party president just before the senate polls, the establishment was sure of getting their desired results as the decision of disqualifying Sharif also left the PML-N out of the senate polls, their candidates fighting as independents. So ultimately the PML-N now have an edge over the invisible forces as the senate polls were the last chance before the general elections where the PML-N could have been badly hurt by the invisible forces.

As to who the next chairman of the senate will be is the million dollar question right now, as both PML-N and PPP are trying to grab the independent candidates so they can win the chairmanship. If the PPP decide to nominate Raza Rabbani again as chairman of the senate, then the PML-N will not file their own candidate as Rabbani is now liked by Sharif and has already conveyed the message that Rabbani is acceptable to the PML-N as chairman. There is also a chance that Raja Zafar-ul-Haq or Pervaiz Rashid from the PML-N will also be nominated for chairmanship if a consensus is not reached on a joint candidate between PPP and PML-N. In any case it will be a big blow for the establishment as Razza Rabbani and Pervaiz Rashid are considered hardliners and anti-establishment politicians while Raja Zafar-ul-Haq is the loyal and well trusted colleague of Sharif.

So now when the senate polls have been conducted and the democratic forces have pushed the invisible forces to the back foot, it is high time that the political parties focus on the shortcomings of the democratic process and bring a new legislation to stop corrupt practices in future senate elections. There were incidents of horse trading which brought a bad name to the whole democratic system and should be addressed in order to make the democratic process more credible and strong. If the establishment stops intervening in the democratic process through conspiracies these flaws will certainly be addressed. For now it is Sharif and the democratic forces who have won, in fact it is democracy that prevailed over the conspiracies of the undemocratic forces. It is certainly a good sign for Pakistan and the future of democracy in our country.

 

 

 

 

 

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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