In light of partial results of the nationwide Cantonment board elections, Minister from Planning and Development Asad Umar has claimed rather prematurely and inaccurately that the PTI has emerged as ‘the largest and only national party’ in the country, when in fact it has failed to defeat the PML-N in Punjab where the latter leads by at least 22 seats. In KP, the PTI has expectedly dominated with a comfortable margin over all other parties and independent candidates. The contest in Sindh has been particularly interesting where PPP, despite being in power in the province has not managed a victory as comprehensive as the other two major parties have in their respective strongholds. That the PTI has managed not only to match the PPP’s 14 seats, all of them in Karachi, making it the largest party in the province’s capital, is commendable. The political significance of this particular result should serve as a wake-up call for the PPP, whose chairman, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is eyeing the PM post in the next general elections, a prospect that seems quite unlikely considering it may not even be able to hold onto Sindh in 2023. Its failure to secure even a single seat in Punjab is also a stark reminder that the recent attempts to make inroads into the province through South Punjab have failed miserably.
On the other hand, the PML-N’s success in Punjab is another indicator of PTI’s inability to perform in the province over the past three years. The choice of Chief Minister in Mr Usman Buzdar coupled with a fragile majority largely dependent on the PML-Q and independent candidates, who have time and again publicly aired their grievances with the PTI leadership that did not make good on pre-lection promises nor provided necessary development funds to MPAs from various constituencies, became the primary reason for instability and poor governance in Punjab. Two days back, one of the central figures in Punjab politics and the PTI, Aleem Khan, submitted his resignation to Prime Minister Imran Khan a second time, citing ‘personal reasons’. Unless there is significant improvement in PTI’s performance over the next two years, it will have a tough time at the hustings convincing people to vote them back into power in Punjab.