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Significance of AJK poll results

Courtesy: Malik M Ashraf

The PML (N) has made a clean sweep in the AJK polls by clinching 32 seats out of 41 directly contested seats, contrary to pre-poll assessments of political commentators and the propaganda of some private TV channels. The pundits who forecast mixed results have been fairly and squarely proven wrong. The elections were held in a peaceful atmosphere barring sporadic skirmishes among the workers of different political parties. However, no major incident of violence or irregularities was reported. Imran Khan and the PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto Zardari failed to create any impact.
The factors which contributed to this landslide victory for PML (N) include: dismal performance by the PPP government during its tenure like the government under Zardari in the centre between 2008-2013; rejection of the politics of hurling unsubstantiated allegations against PML (N) government by both Imran and Bilawal; their immature approach to serious issues like Kashmir and lack of understanding of the dynamics of change in the region. In regards to the significance of the poll results, it has sent a loud and clear message that the people were no more interested in politics of self-aggrandizement and agitation.

The PPP as usual has complained of massive rigging but Imran Khan surprisingly accepted the results and even congratulated PML (N) on its triumph. That is a very positive change in his attitude. There is no denying the fact that he has a considerable following among the youth and urban middle class in the country but that is not good enough to catapult him to new political heights of invincibility. That reality has time and again testified at the ballot box. One hopes that he accepts the ground realities and revisits his political creed and strategies.
His sole focus on dislodging the PML (N) government has failed once and not produced the desired results for a variety of reasons which have remained constant since then. Resorting to the same strategy thinking that it would produce different results is certainly political immaturity.
The credibility of corruption allegations has also been seriously dented by the three consecutive reports of the Transparency International providing an irrefutable testimony to the fact that corruption in the country is on the decline. The PML (N) government has also shown unflinching determination and commitment in dealing with formidable challenges that it inherited. It has revived the economy; a claim corroborated by international lending and rating agencies. It has checked the demon of terrorism in its tracks. It has taken credible and concrete steps to rid the country of the energy crisis. Situation in Karachi and Balochistan are far better than in 2013. That probably is the reason that the people have kept their faith in the party at the ballot box.
He better focus his energies on playing a positive role in bringing the much needed and aspired changes in the system of governance which is the mother of all ills and has been the cause of creating a political culture of graft and entitlement. Not only the PTI but also the PPP which is still a political force to be reckoned with must join hands with the government in improving the system of governance instead of politicking which can wait for better times.
As opposition parties they are entitled to take umbrage at the government policies as long as their actions are wedded to the cause of well-being of the people and the country. In a democratic dispensation the ruling party and opposition are two sides of the same coin. The opposition in fact is government in the waiting. Instead of focusing on the unenviable tradition of pulling the legs of the sitting government, they must contribute to strengthening democracy and democratic institutions in the country. They must apply their energies on proving worthy of the trust of the masses to be able to win their franchise in the coming elections.

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