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Frontrunners PML-N and PPP Lock Horns in Pakistani Elections

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Frontrunners PML-N and PPP Lock Horns in Pakistani Elections

Despite Imran Khan’s immense popularity among the masses, the future of his party appears uncertain at this point.

Frontrunners PML-N and PPP Lock Horns in Pakistani Elections

Pakistan People’s Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari addresses an election rally at Karachi in Pakistan’s Sindh province, February 6, 2024.

Credit: X/PPP

Pakistan will vote in elections to the National Assembly and provincial assemblies on February 8. As voting day draws near, political parties are putting in maximum effort to win the elections.

In an era dominated by technology and social media, political parties are using various mediums to reach out to voters and improve their chances of success. From social media campaigns and advertisements to making personal calls, they are employing every available tool at their disposal.

However, amid this intense courting of voters, some parties have been accused of indulging in unethical practices such as paying money to buy voters. Such allegations raise concerns about the integrity of the electoral process and the true representation of the people’s will.

Pakistan’s mainstream political parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), are poised to make significant gains in the upcoming elections. The future of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) seems uncertain at this point.

The PML-N appears to have a strong momentum and is on course to secure the most seats on election day. The party has strategically focused on Punjab, recognizing the crucial role this province plays in determining the success of any political party. Over the past few weeks, the PML-N has undertaken significant efforts to revive its support base and strengthen its position through active campaigning.

The PML-N has made seat adjustments in constituencies where it believes it may not have a strong chance of winning, ensuring that its resources are concentrated in areas where it can make a significant impact.

In some constituencies, where its chances of winning are lower, the PML-N has extended support to strong candidates who have a higher chance of winning, even if they are not traditional supporters of the PML-N. This strategic approach demonstrates the party’s commitment to securing power by building alliances and maximizing its chances for success in every seat and constituency.

By focusing on both traditional support bases and forging alliances with electable candidates, the PML-N is aiming to strengthen its position in Punjab and increase its chances of forming a government.

On the other hand, the PPP seems to be positioning itself as a strong contender in the upcoming elections by expanding its reach beyond its traditional stronghold in Sindh province. While it is a well-known fact that winning seats solely in Sindh cannot guarantee the premiership, the PPP has strategically focused on making inroads into Punjab, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) to increase its chances.

To achieve this, the PPP has adopted a two-pronged approach. First, it has concentrated on constituencies and regions where historically it has had success, even if it means securing only a few seats. By targeting these areas, the party aims to consolidate its presence and establish a foothold outside of Sindh.

Second, rather than relying solely on party votes, the PPP has actively sought to win over “electables” influential candidates who possess significant weight within their respective constituencies. This strategy allows the party to tap into existing networks and leverage the popularity of influential individuals who can sway voters in their favor.

By focusing on strategic constituency selection, expansion beyond traditional strongholds, and attracting influential electables, the PPP aims to be positioning itself as a formidable force across multiple provinces to increase its chances of securing power in the upcoming elections.

As for the PTI, while it may enjoy popularity among the masses, particularly young voters, it may struggle to translate this support into votes. The party faces numerous legal and organizational hurdles that undermine its chances of success. One of the major challenges PTI encounters is the lack of a cohesive organization. The crackdown by state authorities, imprisonment of its leadership, and divisions within the party have left it virtually without any proper structure. This disarray has weakened their ability to effectively mobilize supporters and coordinate their efforts.

Furthermore, the PTI’s standing has been tarnished by its attack on state institutions last year. The Punjab Home Department last week formally blamed former Prime Minister Imran Khan for the violence that occurred in Lahore on May 9, 2023, labeling the events as a “war against the state.” The investigation additionally draws comparisons between the PTI’s attack on state institutions and those carried out by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a militant organization.

Khan’s confrontational stance toward these institutions has put him and the party in a difficult spot. It has not only strained the party’s relationships with key stakeholders like the military but also raised concerns about the PTI’s commitment to democratic principles.

Moreover, due to legal complications, PTI-supported candidates have had to run without the party symbol. This lack of clarity will create confusion in the minds of voters, who are unsure if these candidates will remain loyal to Khan or switch allegiances once elected.

It remains to be seen how these dynamics will play out on election day and what implications they will have on Pakistan’s political landscape in the coming weeks and months.