Desperate times require desperate measures

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One must feel sorry for political parties as they seem to be totally in the dark on what Musharaf is planning regarding the elections.  As there are so many contradictory messages coming from the government on every issue under the sun, political parties are having a hard time deciding on which course to take.

Political parties putting their heads together is always a positive sign especially in Pakistan’s bizarre political culture.  Furthermore, the getting together of parties at election time in the form of an electoral alliance shows that political parties are mature enough to accommodate each others differences in order to secure a! common goal.   Goings on in the last couple of weeks in the electoral alliance category have been little short of incredible.  Never before have there been so many apparent possibilities of electoral alliances.

There seem to be several possible alliances, which each individual party may be part of.  For instance the PPPP is in talks with all main parties regarding seat adjustments or an electoral alliance, such as the PML(N), PAT, MMA, JI.  The same is the case with PML(Q) with it in apparent talks with MMA, PAT,PML(N) and others.  PAT is in talks with PML(Q), PPPP, PML(N). MMA is in such talks with PML(N) and PML(Q).  Thus, a very confusing scenario is before onlookers who are baffled by stories of a particular party being part of three different possible alliances.

Never before in the history of pre-election scenarios in Pakistan has there been such an atmosphere of confusion.  Political pa! rties seem to be leaving their options open by engaging into dialogue with parties from all sides of the political spectrum.  The reason for this seems to be the uncertainty created by the government with regards to the elections.  If the elections are to be in October then the government is leaving it very late in finalising all issues relating to electoral reforms, with the amendments packages not yet being finalised and announced.  There are rumors amongst the main stream political parties that the government has no intention of holding the elections in October, which is why it has left every thing so late.  Political parties are also crying foul saying that they are not being given adequate time to campaign.  This may be a deliberate attempt at keeping the political parties confused as to what will happen, giving them no time to campaign.

Having come to terms with the situation in hand, political parties seem to! be preparing for the worst.  Exactly what is being mustered up behind the scenes, is anyone’s guess, but some incredible turnarounds are expected to come to the fore front.  Seat adjustments rather than full fledged electoral alliances may be the order of the day enabling each individual party to attain the most out of its support in its strongholds.  This explains why each party is engaging in dialogue with every other.  Even though an electoral alliance will in actual fact be an internal process of seat adjustments between member parties, only the collective effort of main political parties can be successful.  The goal of the anti government parties, which includes most of the main parties, is to stop Musharaf from hijacking the political system by handing the government to his ‘illegitimate child’, the PML(Q).

The anti-government alliance, although not disclosed, a succession of meetings between the PPPP and PAT has almost let the cat out of the bag.  With two long meetings on successive days between PAT chairman Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri and PPPP chief Ameen Fahim, followed by another between Qadri and the PPPP’s Khawja Tariq Raheem suggests both parties are finalising a possible electoral alliance what ever shape that might take.

With newspaper reports confirming that both parties have agreed on the number of seats they will be assigning to each other, the world is probably wondering when the suspense will be put to an end and an announcement made.  Well acting on the principle of ! ‘fighting fire with fire’ political parties are also keeping the government guessing as to what is being planned.  With PML(N) also reportedly joining hands with PPPP in the coming elections, a mighty three party opposition alliance consisting of the PPPP,PML(N) and PAT may finally materialise.  There have been news stories in many newspapers to this effect.  The only problem is that there have also been many other stories of the same parties to be part of many other alliances.

Surprisingly Imran Khan dropped his party’s strong stance on not cooperating in any way or form with parties he claims to be corrupt.  His apparent u-turn was the only way forward as far as the PTI is concerned as every other party is getting the best deal available to it from every other party which seems to be common sense politics.  Imran has now realised that Pakistani politics is the name of ‘getting what you want no matter how you go about it’, as at the end of the day it is the results which matters.  Musharaf has hijacked the w! hole of Pakistan’s political system, as he has done with democracy, so political parties should be forgiven for responding in how they see fit to do so.

Mr. Jawed Iqbal, is an independent writer and a political analyst. His articles appear in printed and electronic media of Pakistan.

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