PESHAWAR: ‘They came, they saw, and they conquered’ was what Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa witnessed on May 11.
The crushing defeat of the mainstream political parties across the province at the hands of the supposed underdogs of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was reminiscent of Muttahida Majlis Amal’s landslide victory in the 2002 elections.
Imran Khan’s ‘tsunami’ swept through Peshawar, Nowshera and Mardan district, besides making deep inroads in the districts of Swabi, Swat, Kohat, Karak, Dir and the Hazara division.
PTI’s rise was unpredicted, literally. Barring a few constituencies, no one had expected the PTI – which was believed to be a party followed by a bunch of hyper-active cyber revolutionaries – to emerge as the strongest party in the province. But May 11 has changed this misperception.
K-P, a swing state?
K-P, however, has not been new to such surprises. Back in 2002, the province witnessed a ‘religious revolution’ when the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal was voted to power. In 2008, the K-P people voted out the MMA and elected the moderate Awami National Party to the assembly.
In the 2013 election, people rejected the religious, nationalist and federalist parties in favour of PTI’s ‘Naya Pakistan’. The party has caused a major dent in the vote-banks of ANP, PPP and JUI-F, which have virtually been reduced to nothing. All hopes of JUI-F were dashed to the ground as it expected to cash in on the disillusionment with ANP.
The PTI challenge
PTI’s win deprived the K-P Assembly of its veteran faces introducing a new breed of politicians. Living up to its name, ‘tsunami’ swept away most powerbrokers and influential politicians of the province.
Confident candidates like PPP’s former president Syed Zahir Shah, Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Pir Sabir Shah, Anwar Saifullah, Syed Aqil Shah, the Bilour family, Kiramatullah Chagarmati, Javed Abbasi and almost all lawmakers in the previous assembly were ousted. Some of these politicians had their eyes set on the provincial top slot.
The first task ahead is formation of a coalition government.
PTI needs 63 seats in the provincial assembly to form the government. Presently, it is leading the race with 34 seats. The party is also all set to have at least eight reserved seats in the 124-memmber house. It can also pin its hope on 10 independents who traditionally join the winning party.
Together with the independents and reserved seats, PTI will manage to cross the 50-seat mark. The party can then also look forward to forming a coalition with Jamaat Islami and Qaumi Watan Party in the province. The coalition will have to face a tough opposition which will comprise all the mainstream political parties.
If PTI manages to form the government, it will have to live up to its election promises. Foremost of which will be restoring peace in the province plagued by militant violence. Other major challenges will be provincial economy, infrastructure, development, corruption in the province.
In a nutshell, if any lesson one can learn from this victory is that the K-P people are averse to doctrines, rhetoric and empty promises. They want their representatives to deliver and, if they fail to deliver, they are rejected in the next elections.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 13th, 2013.
Correction: An earlier version of the article was running an incorrect graph. The errors in the graph have been rectified.