- Fate of the election
Quite suddenly, it appears, Imran Khan is ‘not hearing positive news’ about the election. Could it just be a coincidence that such news corresponded with thinner and smaller crowds at his campaign jalsas? Imran is used to getting tens of thousands of cheering supporters out to his jalsas merely by stomping his feet. But, since this was also quite the trend before the last election, there’s only so much a party can rely on numbers at gatherings to translate into solid votes. Yet losing numbers, this close to the election after having built much initiative, must be startling to say the least.
Or perhaps Imran, too, has caught wind of some of the rumours making rounds in Islamabad, which suggest that those who might have liked to see him win would now prefer a Sanjrani-like character after all. For a while now Imran has appeared the more confident candidate, especially after accepting anybody calling themselves ‘electables’ and looking to jump ship. But there has been much confusion since Nawaz’s return. Once Shahbaz was able to whip up good numbers on the street on Friday the 13th, even though they couldn’t make it to the airport, PML-N grassroot was not just mobilised but also revitalised.
Indeed reporters covering Punjab’s core PML-N areas, which had grown distant from the party during the Panama trial, speak of a renewed enthusiasm to support Nawaz – he still seems the party’s main vote getter. With not just the main parties but independent candidates also going full steam, any attempt to interfere with the election threatens to push the entire system into a tailspin. It has already become very controversial, with sections of the foreign press calling it Pakistan’s ‘dirtiest election in years’. All efforts should now be made to ensure that the few days that remain before the vote are without controversy and unnecessary speculation.