Pakistan Elections 2013: Reflections

The South Asian Idea is opening up this space for your comments, thoughts, and reflections on the elections. Please use the Comments space below to voice your opinions and join the conversation on the future of Pakistan and of the region.

Thanks, Editors

The factual information appended below on the 2013 elections in Pakistan is courtesy of the British Pakistan Foundation who have further acknowledged their sources.

On Saturday, May 11th Pakistan will be voting its new parliament at its general elections 2013. For this reason we have compiled some relevant information to understand how the General Elections will influence the country’s political landscape. Please find below an infographic of AlJazeera on the Pakistan Elections 2013 (click on the link below the picture to view a larger image) as well as some information on the major political parties.

infographic elections

Main political parties at the 2013 General Elections

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is a mainstream political party in Pakistan. It was led by “life chairperson” Benazir Bhutto. The Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPPP) is a party formed in 2002 by the PPP. At the last legislative elections, 20 October 2002, the party won 25.8 % of the popular vote and 71 out of 272 elected members, thus gaining the second-largest number of seats in the Parliament of Pakistan. The party was founded in 1967, on November 30th and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto became its first chairman. The party creed is: “Islam is our faith; democracy is our politics; socialism is our economy; all power to the people.”

Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N)
The Pakistan Muslim League (N) is a center-right, fiscal conservative political party in Pakistan, being the largest conservative political force and second largest political party, roughly representing 19.6% of votes in the Parliament (both in Senate and National Assembly), in the latest national parliamentary elections. The Pakistan Muslim League (N) is currently headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI)
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Pakistan Movement for Justice) is a political party in Pakistan. At the last legislative elections, 20 October 2002, the party won 0.8% of the popular vote and 1 out of 272 elected members. PTI has also a seat in provincial assembly of N.W.F.P. PTI is headed by Cricket legend Imran Khan. “Justice,Humanity and Self Esteem” is the slogan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.Imran Khan, the chairman of the party.

Pakistan Muslim League – Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q)
The Pakistan Muslim League (Quaid-e-Azam), or PML-Q is a centrist political party in Pakistan, derived from the original Pakistan Muslim League which had laid foundation of the state of Pakistan. It is widely considered as a centrist to conservative party.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)
Muttahida Qaumi Movement generally known as MQM, is a political party in Pakistan founded and currently led by Altaf Hussain. It originated as an ethnic student organization in 1978 from University of Karachi. The students movement later turned into an influential political party of Sindh. Later on July 26, 1997, MQM officially changed its name from Muhajir Qaumi Movement to Muttahida Quami Movement.

Awami National Party (ANP)
The Awami National Party (ANP, Awami meaning People) is a nationalist political party (leftist) in Pakistan. The Party is mostly famous among the Pashtuns of Pakistan in NWFP, Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Western Punjab, Northern Areas. The Party’s current president is Senator Asfandyar Wali Khan.

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)
The founding session of Jamaat-e-Islami was scheduled on 26th August 1941 at Lahore.The participants from every nook and corner of India gathered at the residence ofMistree Abdullah at Islamia Park, Poonch Road, Lahore. The first session began at 8’pm in Mubarik Mosque, wherein, the following 75 persons participated.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI)
The Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Assembly of Islamic Clergy, or JUI) is a political party in Pakistan. It formed a combined government in national elections in 2002 and 2008. The party has split into two separate parties: one is led by MaulanaFazal-ur-Rehman and is known as “Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazlur Rehman)”, or “JUI-F”, while the other is led by MaulanaSami ul Haq and is known as “Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Sami ul Haq)” or “JUI-S”.

Balochistan National Party (BNP)
The Balochistan National Party or Balochistan National Party (Mengal) is a political party in Balochistan, Pakistan. BNP believes in more provincial rights and greater autonomy for Baluchistan province through peaceful and democratic struggle. In 1972, the National Awami Party or NAP formed the first elected government in Balochistan after winning the elections.

  • Samia
    Posted at 04:15h, 11 May Reply

    Some people including the PTI chief Imran Khan have equated the election of 2013 with that of 1970, one which accelerated the dismemberment of Pakistan and brought PPP to power. The most important issue in that election was Roti, Kapra aur Makaan (food, clothing and shelter).

    I was a medical college student at the time and yes the possibilities attached to that election seemed endless. Citizens of all classes and categories felt they had a voice. I remember the janitorial staff of OB/GYN operating rooms – lumbering old women and spry young men with curling oily moustaches – who had not uttered a peep about their working conditions, stage a walk out in the middle of a busy operating day because they felt ”exploited” and also empowered to bring their demands for better pay into the street.
    We, the students, also joined them to raises slogans against the Sir Ganga Ram hospital management and then went on to walk with students of Punjab university through Anarkali bazaar shouting uplifting slogans – “in girtee hoee diivaaroN ko aik dhakka aur do” (give these crumbling walls one more shove). Laborers, school teachers, construction workers, peasants – people all ages and ilks felt each had a place at the table and they mattered.

    Is that the case in this election?

    Time and experience have made cynics of us all. Pakistanis have been let down repeatedly – by democracy, by dictatorship, and all other forms of arrangements in between – so they are cautious. While militant violence, extremism, and drone campaigns have become the louder narrative over the past decade, the most fundamental issues in this election as that of 1970 still remain the same – Roti, Kapra aur Makaan, a promise that has remained unfulfilled. Only now, because of disillusionment with the cast of leaders and the demonstrated failure of the state to control daily street violence, security is a main issue. The continued backward slide, evidenced by critical indicators manifesting in daily deprivations in peoples’ lives, have added clean water, sanitation, electricity, education, and health care to this list.

    A group of nurses in KPK and domestic workers in Punjab when asked replied, “What does it matter who is in power? They all end up making themselves rich. All we want is security for our children, a chance to earn a living, and to put food on the table.” And the votes were equally divided amongst PML-N, PPP and PTI. One woman from a conservative background worried that her family may not allow her vote.

    Which party will deliver? It is telling that not one has seriously addressed these issues or presented a realistic plan for delivery.

    But hope always remains and, for lack of any other options, we go once more to the polls – with feeling. That itself is something in this beleaguered and tormented country.

  • indiajones
    Posted at 18:47h, 11 May Reply

    At the risk of facing enormous flak, I think, in sheer numbers, there would be more Indians watching the elections and its outcome, with bated breath, than those in Pakistan itself.
    No doubt in general the rich have become richer, the poor poorer, but bringing “mazhab” and “deen” into the political spectrum and rhetoric, will always have negative results, if good governance is what is required out of politics.
    Your comment about “not one….presented a realistic plan for delivery”, may not be quite correct. For one,the PML-N did present a manifesto.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:57h, 16 May

      indiajones: It is one of those ironies of history that the major introduction of religion into politics in South Asia is attributed to Gandhiji in the context of the Khilafat Movement (circa 1919), a move that was strongly opposed by Jinnah at that time. Jinnah himself resorted to the same temptation at a later date. This means the religion will be used for political ends whenever it is expedient for politicians. It is up to the citizens to not allow themselves to be manipulated in this fashion.

      Political parties in Pakistan have manifestos for the sake of form. There is very little intention at implementation which is borne out by experience.

  • SouthAsian
    Posted at 06:11h, 12 May Reply

    Allah Mian ney hameiN jamhooriyat sey nawaza hai aur shareef log ata kiye haiN

    The Lord God has blessed us with democracy and endowed us with decent people

    dekheN keh de koyee iss sehrey se baRh kar sehra

  • Anil Kala
    Posted at 11:17h, 12 May Reply

    This is watershed election in Pakistan. Pundits say Army chose to remain neutral, I say they had little choice. The media in Pakistan is awesome force now any mischief by army would have boomeranged besides Army itself is a fractured force.

    The government most likely may not deliver on promises but a tradition of peaceful power transfer is not a small prize for Pakistan. Also the marked rout of ruling party will be a reminder to PML-N to perform. Best would be to create an impression of good governance picked by media like India’s Nitish Kumar to ensure repeat win.

    India will have some peace after all, may be some token steps against the freely roaming rogues will be bonus.Loss of Imran Khan is good for everybody, seems people know ‘Sheikh Chillies’ don’t deliver.

  • Vikram
    Posted at 23:57h, 13 May Reply

    SA, any idea what proportion of the members of the National Assembly and the KP assembly from the PTI are first time members ?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 05:34h, 18 May

      Vikram: Not yet, but this is worth finding out given the dynastic nature of politics in South Asia.

      My own hypothesis is that in South Asia there is a strong endogenous dynamic in electoral politics that increases dynasties over time (a la Patrick French’s analysis for India that shows 100 percent of national representatives below the age of 30 being members of dynasties). There doesn’t appear a strong enough countervailing endogenous dynamic. Rather, there are exogenous countervailing shocks that reset the model from time to time. For example, with every martial law in Pakistan, there is incentive to induct new faces into politics to break the hold of the old ones. Over time these new faces generate their own dynastics. Look at Ayub Khan and his sprawling political dynasty. In Pakistan, populist movements like those of Zulfikar Bhutto and Imran Khan have also introduced new faces – in the case of Bhutto they fell into the dynastic pattern over time. In India, absent military takeovers and populist movements, there have been fewer challenges to the dynastic trend.

      One could contrast this to organizations with different modes of entry. For example, the civil/adminsitrative service would be much less dynastic while corporate buisness might be almost as dynastic being full of family-run firms. This may have something to do with the control of tangible and intangible capital that determines the barriers to entry for various hierarchies and impacts the outcomes selectively.

      A model that specifically includes barriers to entry would help elucidate these hypotheses.

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 15:22h, 30 May

      Vikram: Here is some information on the KP assembly that was sworn in yesterday: “Out of a house of 124 members of the provincial assembly more than 70 are first timers, mostly belonging to PTI.”

    • Vikram
      Posted at 20:10h, 30 May

      Thats interesting and encouraging. Is Imran Khan poised to become CM ?

    • SouthAsian
      Posted at 04:47h, 31 May

      No, Imran Khan was elected to the national not the state assembly. He will most likely lead the opposition at the Center. The CM for KPK has been announced – he is a veteran politician who contested this time on the PTI ticket:

Post A Comment