The polls day and after


One expects everyone will accept the results

Security is going to be the biggest challenge as the country holds general elections 2013 today. Countrywide attacks on the three secular parties by the TTP and indiscriminate bombing by the separatists in Balochistan have taken the toll of more than one hundred lives in the last four weeks. On Thursday a candidate was kidnapped from an election rally in Multan. One expects a better performance on the part of the security and law enforcement agencies on Saturday when the TTP reportedly has planned to conduct suicide attacks. The terrorist attacks have so far only succeeded in deterring the three targeted parties from holding public rallies. They have however failed to break the will of these parties or their committed followers. The election campaign has gone on under the very nose of the terrorists in Waziristan and other tribal agencies. The army leadership and the ECP have held several meetings and a consensus security plan for the elections is reportedly in place. A judgment on the performance of the security agencies and law enforcement bodies will have to wait till the elections are over.

The terrorists dread a big turn out on the day of the elections, as it would mean that people are not cowed down by the TTP’s threat of mayhem and carnage. In case the security agencies succeed in stopping major attacks, people everywhere would throng to the polling stations, even in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Karachi and Balochistan which have been the major terrorist targets after the announcement of the election schedule. As things stand, there are likely to be variations in the turn out pattern. One expects the largest turn out in Punjab followed by interior Sindh, Karachi, the KP and Balochistan. In case Punjab crosses 65 per cent mark, the overall voter turnout percentage is likely to exceed the 2008’s.

The various election surveys are unanimous on one salient point: no single party is likely to get simple majority. Unless the results belie the prediction, which sometime they do, the country will have a coalition ruling from Islamabad, as was the case in 2008. Both the PML-N and the PTI though appear confident of bagging enough votes to be able them to rule on their own. The PPP, the ANP and the MQM consider it unjust that while the PML-N, the PTI that while they were forced to curtail their campaigns, the religious parties were free to hold public rallies. What is more, some of the candidates and scores of activists of the three ‘condemned’ parties were also killed. Thus the pitch was queered against them. While the complaint is by no means unjustified, all these parties agreed to take part in the elections. The Baloch nationalist parties too had to pass through similar tribulations. Whatever their reservations, one expects that they would accept the results.