Hung parliament in the offing?

Published: May 8, 2013
The writer is Executive Editor of The Express Tribune

The writer is Executive Editor of The Express Tribune

The more Imran Khan gains, the more it becomes difficult to predict the outcome of the May 11 polls. The more Nawaz Sharif loses to Imran, which presumably, he is, the more it appears likely that we would end up with a hung parliament. Imran seems to be succeeding in preventing Nawaz from sweeping the 2013 polls, while the PML-N is being seen to be successfully blocking the PTI tsunami from inundating the next parliament. And the more a hung parliament appears to be in offing, the more it seems likely that we would have a PML-PPP coalition government at the centre and in Punjab, as the PPP still has the ability to muster the third-largest number of seats in both the National Assembly and in Punjab, if not the second-largest, if one went by the claim of some pundits that with the right-of-centre votes divided among the PML-N, PTI, Jamaat-e-Islami, PML-Q and right-leaning independents, the PPP stood to grab more seats than is being predicted.

Why not a PML-N and PTI coalition? Imran himself, perhaps, would be the main obstacle in the way of such a coalition. He seems to be driven by some kind of ideology, which perhaps, he himself would find impossible to define, except labeling it with a vague catchphrase like Naya Pakistan but which I believe would make it almost impossible for him to join hands with either the PML-N or the PPP to form a government. Imran’s biggest achievement in this election has been his success with the youth bulge. He has mobilised a vast number of apolitical youth of Pakistan as never before. But if he joins the government as a junior partner at this juncture making visible compromises, he would perhaps, stand to lose the support of this expanding bulge. But if he opts to sit in the opposition with his formidable numbers, he would not only be able to give the government a run for its money but would also succeed, hopefully, in keeping the support of the youth intact until the next election, by which time he would also have generated a vote bank for himself.

There is another dimension to the issue of the PML-N and the PTI coming together. Both have tried to outdo each other in their anti-American sloganeering. They would have to live up to it when in a coalition government. Imran has already said that he would order the Air Force to shoot down the drones. Both have spoken of shattering the shackles of the US dole. The establishment, which is at the moment in negotiations with the US on such issues like talks with the Afghan Taliban, the Nato withdrawal process and the post-withdrawal regional scenario, would surely find these slogans very helpful in getting the best deal (according to the establishment’s perspective) from these negotiations. But the question is, how would Pakistan cope with a hostile India across the Line of Control and a not-very-friendly Afghanistan across the Durand Line (which Kabul continues to refuse to recognise) without a single friend in the world, not even in the Muslim Middle East, which lately has forged closer links with India and with the one we all so bank upon, Saudi Arabia, firmly in the lap of the US?

Whatever the outcome of the polls, Pakistan would continue to be part of an increasingly interdependent world. And it would continue to need friends to help it overcome the vast political, social and economic problems it is facing on a number of fronts domestically, regionally and globally.

Tailpiece: First, they came for the non-Muslims, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a non-Muslim; then they came for the “seculars”, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a “secular”; then they came for the liberals, and I didn’t speak out because I was not a liberal; then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak out for me.

I don’t need to repeat the original quote here because I know most of the readers of this column know whose quote I have liberally paraphrased and to whom it is addressed and why.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (11)

  • May 8, 2013 - 1:21AM

    The author is taking what is said by these politicians a little too literally. Of course they don’t mean anything they say.

    For instance one of the first things the new government has to do is sign up for a new IMF program. The letter of comfort that the IMF will give the government will pave the way for more loans from the US and European countries.

    The alternative is to go bankrupt and default on your loans. That will NOT be pretty. So rest assured they will all be lining up for more foreign money.


  • Mirza
    May 8, 2013 - 1:52AM

    I agree with the Op Ed by the senior journalist of ET. I have been saying it like a broken record that Pakistan or India cannot have a one party stable govt. These are diverse countries and can and should have only a coalition govt to represent all parts of the country.
    I agree with you when you say “Why not a PML-N and PTI coalition? Imran himself, perhaps, would be the main obstacle in the way of such a coalition.” The easy solution for PTI leaders would be to push IK aside (no pun intended) and the two parties would be very similar! There is not a second name after IK who could keep the new remnants of Zia (Hashmi) or Qureshi type together. In addition most blind worshippers of IK have expectations higher than K-2 and they are unwilling to even talk about any possibility of a coalition govt. This arrogance would put IK in the opposition and his new friends in the party would not like that and PTI would be cut down to size. It is not going to be pretty for the idol worshippers of PTI. Both PML-N and PPP have gone through periods when they were out of power and not many seats in the parliament yet they both survived for another day. PTI has yet to pass that test!


  • Gp65
    May 8, 2013 - 4:02AM

    @Mirza: Agree with your views on coaliation government being more appropriate for highly diverse countries like India dn Pakistan. In India at least coalition governments have been better than ones with absolute majority where Congress rode rough shod over legitimate concerns of various provinces with very adverse consequences. While decision making is indeed slower with a coalition government it is far more representative of the diverse opinion of the country and are more likely to be successfully implemented. Thus if I had my way, I would replace the word hung to coalition in the OpEd heading.


  • K B Kale
    May 8, 2013 - 4:14AM

    Excellent, realistic analysis. Agree with you!


  • Ahmad Ali
    May 8, 2013 - 10:42AM

    Two party system has created environment of non competition and corruption. Third force is important and should play its role. I think it will create a check and balance situation and don’t give free ride to anyone. PTI is really a good addition to Pakistani politics.


  • Adam Malik
    May 8, 2013 - 2:08PM

    That is a common practice that during election different political parties provide solutins and also criticise other political parties however it is unfortnate in Pakistan, political parties are more focused on criticising others and provide beautiful slogan – and again unfortunate that slogans havent any base por program stating specific steps. I wish if all political parties look at overall results and respect in letter and spirit the mandate given by the people to all political parties and think for possible maximum compromise(or in other words what in rest of world is called minnimum common agenda) to gift a stable political government to people of Pakistan. This way new government can take hard decision without any fear and even consensus can be developed among government and opposition to get rid of IMF. If new government is able to implement Income Tax Law that allows government to collect direct tax (income tax) from every citizen earning 30,000 per month. This time only salaried persons are paying income tax correctly. However there is law allows to collect tax if a citizen earn 30,000 and no limit for above – doesnt matter what kind of business he/ she own. Again to avoid sloganeering but assess the taxable business entities and indidivuals. Here it is needless to mention collects lowest tax if we compare the Tax ratio to GDP even still lower than Nepal.


  • Shahid Kinnare
    May 8, 2013 - 4:05PM

    Whole article is based on GT Road educated that Irman khan is winning. I think PTI is not going to win more than ten seat.


  • Mirza
    May 8, 2013 - 9:36PM

    @K B Kale:
    Thanks for your kind words, I am humbled! The problem in Pakistan is that the two rightwing parties of Punjab favored by Taliban are already behaving as if they have won even way before votes are cast. One of these parties goes to such an extent that they do not want any coaliton with any of the main parties which is against the spirit of democracy. I have great hopes and faith in the rural heartland of Pakistan which has always chosen the progressive parties and defeated rightwing especially mullahs.
    Finally the three secular (relative term) parties are waking up and it is heartening to hear that ANP has withdrawn their candidates in favor of PPP in rural Sindh. They have to make seat adjustments in all three smaller provinces with MQM also to stop the onslaught of TTP on Pakistani people.

  • k. Salim Jahangir
    May 9, 2013 - 8:45AM

    This is a planted piece & so are the comments.We have full faith in the ability of Imran Khan & his team to take the country out the rut we are in today because of PPP & PML (N).No politics?


  • K B Kale (2nd attempt)
    May 9, 2013 - 10:33AM

    Thanks for taking cognizance of my comment. Actually I liked Mr M Ziauddin’s article so much that I tried to write a ‘thank-you’ note to him, but all permutations and combinations of his name with failed to get my message through!
    I wish he gives his e-mail ID below his articles. Regards.


  • K B Kale
    May 10, 2013 - 12:29AM

    @k. Salim Jahangir:
    No Sir! According to me, Imran Khan is just a front-a façade-for Armed Force in the same way Nawaz Sharif, as a candidate of IJI, was in 1988. He will follow the diktats of the Armed Forces and ISI.


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