A Vote For PMLn is a Vote For Zardari
By: Taqveem Ahsan Siddiqui
The title does raise an eyebrow or two. Doesn’t it? Most of the masses are used to the statements like "Nawaz's vote will be divided which will eventually help PPP" or something along the lines of "keep it PMLn or otherwise Zardari will be Bhari Again". Without getting into too much of a dissection of the rather age old argument (of which much has been said and written about) let us move on straight to the statement that may have created a stir in the ranks.
Not so new an argument for PTI supporters, as they have been spending their energies in proving the former wrong.
So, how is it a vote for Zardari if you vote for Nawaz? To analyse this we may have to go back to the election 2008 results. We all know that PMLn had pretty much a walk over in the previous elections as far as anti PPP vote was concerned as there was no other opposition party that actually participated in elections. This also proves the fact that whatever PMLn has got at the moment is pretty much the full potential that they could get. Looking at general perception of the people substantiated by a number of polls and surveys it is clear that the graph of all parties currently in the parliament has gone spiraling down (ok before pointing all guns at me, read the power phrase here "general perception substantiated by polls and surveys"). Most of the supporters left of all the parties in the parliament are the Jialas and the hard line emotional supporters. Some have more, some have less.
PTI in the recent years has appealed to those who were generally apathetic to the political process in the past. This means that a significant majority of their voters are those who have not voted before or have not been interested in politics at all in the past.
Now if we analyse on the basis of the outcome of the previous elections. However controversial they were, in the backdrop of over 30 Million Electoral deemed bogus by the courts, the fact is PMLn did not emerge as a party with footings outside of Punjab, and has not secured a majority. Considering, that there were no opposition parties in contest, it was a disappointing outcome, well at least for PMLn supporters.
Even if for a moment, we take a hugely farfetched leap and suppose that none of the Political Parties' vote bank is affected since 2008. It seems that the 39 Million or 47% voters in the bracket age of 18-35 of which 30 million are newly registered, who will vote for the first time, will significantly affect the upcoming elections and may alter the outcome of 2008 elections.
Since we have assumed that there are no changes to the vote banks of other political parties, both PMLn and PPP may win or lose seats in their respective constituencies, with a very low margin. In other words, the outcome being, more or less be the same as it was in 2008, which further means, the same setup going forward for the next five years.
Now let’s come out of the cuckoo land and talk about the ‘real world’.
The ground realities like it or not have taken a huge diversion during the course of the 5 years of current setup. I have deliberately termed it as "setup" instead of "government", I don’t have to explain the obvious here I guess. A major game changing force of newly registered voters is eagerly waiting for the new elections, and 'largely' they have not been supporters or voters of any party. Then there is this ‘huge’ apathetic class that has been affected by the outcome of the previous elections ruthlessly. To say the least, Law and order, Economy, Basic amenities have all reached the lowest point of abysmally appalling state at the moment. We have been embarrassed by our leaders on all fronts, be it diplomatic or any other front. People now have access to an over whelming spoiling amount of information through all sorts of media. Looking beyond the polls and surveys, none of our social gatherings reflect any support or appreciation of the current setup.
The only people, I find speaking in support of this setup, are the die-hard supporters of their parties who believe they are a bit less affected, either because they are in denial or are too consumed by their political affiliations that they have stopped thinking about their current state beyond party affiliations. They just cannot accept the demise of popularity of their respective leaders or Political Parties. Then there is that class that has been told, that, by thinking outside the box, they are either being traitors to their kind or will face an annihilation in the hands of a different setup, As if they are not exploited, looted, ruthlessly killed or are any better in any shape or form at this particular time.
This back drop now seems more reflective and supportive of the polls and surveys, that some political leaders accept or reject based on a simple principal of 'what it means for them'. All the polls and supporting evidence is pointing in one direction at the moment. Yes it is that "Dreaded" word, 'CHANGE'. People are now looking elsewhere for a break. They have tried these Political Parties, not once but at least 3 - 4 times each. They have had the taste of military dictatorships as well. So the only option, that appeals to them, whether they like it or not, is PTI. The odds are in their favour at the moment, and as a wise man once said, PTI can only be defeated by PTI itself.
In my opinion tactical voting, is severe undermining of one’s own meritorious judgement; however I do appreciate the fact that there are people who may consider tactical voting for various reasons, which is not the scope of this piece. So for those who try and instil fear of "Zardari again" in the hearts of people, this is 'THE OTHER SIDE' of the argument. By voting for any other party, people will only be voting AGAINST 'THEMSELVES'. This may mean they will end up with the same dreaded setup for another five years, and God forbid, they may not be able to get another chance to pick themselves and the country up from where we have been brought down to by all the major "Stakeholders" of the current setup. Then why not, for argument’s sake, instead of voting for PMLn and bring the same setup back, vote for a party that “seems” credible, has not been tried before and has a potential of winning elections with “just a little” bit of change of minds of the voters who have voted before. After all, majority seem to agree that vast majority does not want another PPP coalition government.
It makes more sense that instead of trying the politics of fear, all Political Parties should concentrate on their own programs and should try and capitalise on their previous performance, 'If There Is Any', for the upcoming elections. Let the people decide with open mind based on their own sufferings or "joys" brought to them by all the major political Parties of the past.
Let us not think about what our votes mean for other political parties, but let us concentrate on what our vote means for ourselves both as individuals and as a nation. Remember, there is no worst decision than the one taken based on fear of a "Possibility" or an event that may or may not happen. Above all persisting with the same choices that have led to disastrous results in the past and expecting a different outcome is not only a waste of time but also not in any way considered wise.