PDM, allies face tough odds in by-polls

PTI with the help of its govt in K-P stands strong chance of winning four by-election constituencies

Umer Farooq August 18, 2022


As another by-election becomes a referendum on popularity, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and its allies have thought that it would serve their interests better to join hands against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced the schedule for the bypolls to be held on four national assembly constituencies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P), after the resignations of MNA’s of those seats were accepted.

Resultantly, all stakeholders in the incumbent coalition federal government have decided to keep a united front so as to not add to the PTI’s sky-high popularity further by giving it an easy path to victory. Awami National Party (ANP), which is not part of the PDM, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Ismam (JUI-F) are presently the front-runners to field candidates against the PTI in K-P. Sources privy to both parties’ by-election preparations informed The Express Tribune that both have joined hands for the four constituencies by agreeing on fielding two candidates each in a recent meeting held at ANP’s Bacha Khan Markaz. ANP’s candidates include Ghulam Ahmad Bilour for NA-31 Peshawar and Aimal Wali for NA-24 Charsadda whereas JUI-F’s Maulana Qasim will be contesting polls from NA-22 and JUI-F’s candidate for NA-45 is yet to be finalised.

However, political analysts believe that these efforts of putting up a united front will go to waste. “I do not think traditional politics poses any threat to the PTI right now. The social media messaging and the PTI’s campaigning are very effective tools so it would be hard to counter those,” said Professor Dr Zahoor Khan, who is the Head of the Political Science Department, at Edwardes College, Peshawar. Dr Zahoor believes that the imported government narrative has been sold exceptionally well whereas the PTI’s competition has struggled to form a coherent narrative.

“Furthermore, Imran Khan has made the youth believe that he represents their interest best. So naturally they have flocked to him,” the professor explained. Similarly, Sareer Khan, former professor at the Government College in Mardan, believes that the PDM does not stand much of a chance. “The PTI has made its voters turn up in Punjab and we might see something similar in K-P,” he said, adding that the party was riding its popularity wave to the max. Sareer, like Dr Zahoor, believes that the PDM and its allies are in a much weaker position than they realise.

“Imran Khan and his party have absolutely taken over social media and this will eventually be the cause of the PDM and its candidates’ downfall in K-P,” Sareer predicted. When asked if there was any scenario that the PDM could carve out wins, Sareer said it depended on how many people showed up to vote. “If the PTI voters do not turn up but the PDM and its allies successfully bring out their support bases then they do have a chance,” Sareer said while talking to The Express Tribune.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2022.


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