It has been a long, controversial election season fraught with allegations, arrests, disqualifications and death.
At the end of that long, tragic and divisive road lies the polling station where the electorate will go to cast their vote. Democracy in action is a wonderful thing to witness. But when it is carrying the weight of hundreds dead, including three candidates, disillusionment is easy enough. Add to that a democratic process whose very legitimacy is in question, and disillusioned is exactly what the electorate should be feeling.
They’re calling this the dirtiest election in the history of the country. That’s a tall claim given the utter filth that Pakistan’s electoral history has been embroiled in since its very inception. Whether it was the bankrolling of the 90s or the horse trading of 2002 or the messes before that, there have been a lot of dirty elections. To call this the dirtiest is something, especially since we have had more than one where there is an actual military dictator watching over proceedings.
Yet maybe this is the dirtiest. Not because of the audacity or the extent of influence being claimed by Mian Nawaz’s ‘alien forces,’ but because of the transparency and awareness we have seen this time around.
Until these polls, there has been a very Schrodingerian element surrounding the merits or demerits of who is or is not pulling any strings that do or do not exist. Circa 2018, and no one is pulling any punches – neither the establishment, neither Imran Khan, neither the PML-N and neither their supporters.
There is controversy surrounding any election. Take the most insignificant of elections in the smallest of towns for the silliest of positions and you will have someone murmuring something or the other about irregularities. And as the stage gets bigger, so do the complaints. It is inevitable.
But this election has been something special. The drama surrounding the buildup has paled compared only to the climax we have finally arrived at. Corruption, disqualification, conviction, targeting and arrest all with the shadow of the establishment looming dark and dangerous. That’s enough material for more than one election, and here we are with all of it shaping what direction the country will take the next five years.
The heaviness of this election season aside, all eyes will be glued to the results as they come in constituency by constituency. The pollsters are predicting a hung parliament. No one is going to get a majority and there is going to have to be some political engineering done in that case.
This will be familiar territory for the PTI, who are the beneficiaries of the political engineering that has shaped the current political scenario in the country.
Whatever happens, the PTI will do better than last time and the League worse. But if the winds go that way, the latter might just still be the single largest party. That still doesn’t mean Mian Shehbaz will be prime minister, but it will mean that in a best-case scenario Imran Khan will have to swallow a bitter pill and make alliances. Tough thing to do for a proud man, but when push comes to shove, and push has had an active role this election, he will say “yes sir”.
Even then, if he becomes PM or not, is questionable. As it happens with coalitions, we might just need to Google who our new leader is ala Sanjrani.
Exciting times ahead.