Election campaign is on

Nawaz Sharif

While the government’s tenure extends till March 2013, unannounced election campaign is already underway.

 The PPP and the PML(N) are busy highlighting the development projects completed during their tenure and making promises to undertake more if they are returned to power. The PPP is trying to turn the tables against its traditional rival in Punjab. For this it has added ten new ministers from Punjab to the cabinet and is currently concentrating on South Punjab. Mian Nawaz Sharif has meanwhile tried to make a dent in Sindh through alliances with former politicians belonging to the PML(Q) and with Mumtaz Bhutto’s Sindh National Party. In KP, the party has succeeded in winning over the erstwhile chief of the PML(Q) along with his group in the provincial assembly. In Balochistan, it has recruited political figures from some of the major tribes besides a former provincial governor.

The party has opened its doors to practically all former PML(Q) leaders with the exception of half a dozen who are still considered unacceptable. The PTI has meanwhile emerged as the third electoral force. Besides holding big public meetings at all provincial headquarters, Imran Khan has held several fairly large public gathering in the interior of Punjab and KP. A number of widely known figures from the PPP, PML(N) and PML(Q) have also joined the PTI.

One expects political parties to adhere to certain voluntary restraints as they conduct the campaign. It is commendable on the part of the opposition that instead of advancing threats to march on Islamabad, it is reaching out to the electorate. Meanwhile, those organising rallies and processions have to ensure that these do not disturb peace.

What worries one is the tendency to politicise issues that need to be resolved through constitutional and legal means. It would be better to leave the creation of the proposed Seraiki province to the next elected government which might be able to able to fulfil the conditions required under Article 239(IV) instead of promising, as Zardari did, to create the province before the elections and to “include some non-Seraiki districts” also in it to make it “viable.” The exchange of accusations and counter accusations between the PPP and PML(N) should stop on the Bhoja airliner crash also. – PT