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Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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Reading between political statements

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif says the Cantonment Board elections tell that his party will win the 2023 general elections if the polls are fair and transparent and without interference.

He said this at a workers’ convention in Rawalpindi.

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Politics is a serious business where just like the show business (or showbiz), one is allowed to boast whatever they have done, and/or plan to do, or even whatever they have not done and will never do. That’s why everything is allowed and is fair in war and love, and at a certain level, every war is a political thing.

Shehbaz Sharif has been doing active and high-profile politics since the 90s, and whenever he is in the opposition, he knows how to talk a political talk, and how to make political issues apolitical whenever he is the chief minister of Punjab. He cheered up the crowd to celebrate the party win in the recently concluded Cantonment Board elections across Pakistan. He says the “outcome of the recent cantonment board elections is a clear indication that his party will sweep the 2023 general elections and bury the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) politically forever”.

If Shehbaz Sharif’s assertion is evaluated politically and apolitically, it is clear that his party has no chance in Sindh, Balochistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkwa, if the results are to be counted. The PML-N performed well and cornered the ruling PTI in Lahore and Rawalpindi boards. That also means that the PTI will form the next government since it has the most seats on the party position charts. That also indicates the Pakistan People’s Party is going to lose its bastion called Sindh.

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Whatever Shehbaz Sharif said at the convention, the workers loved it and they chanted: “Wazir-i-Azam, Shehbaz Sharif”. This chant must be music to Shehbaz’s ears.

Only time will tell who becomes the next prime minister, but buying local government polls as indicators of the general elections is not a sane strategy.

Why not?

Let’s go to the Sialkot district where the party of Shehbaz Sharif won a National Assembly by-election in Daska this year, but lost a by-election for a provincial seat in the same district a few months later. Similarly, his party lost a winnable seat in a Karachi by-election.

Let us walk into the history of the 2013 era.

Before the general elections of 2013, the ruling party – the PPP – was winning or standing as a runner-up in by-polls across Pakistan. In the general election, the party was devastated in Punjab. It has yet to recover from the defeat wounds. The same is the story of the Awami National Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan. They won elections on a given day but stood as a loser the next day. We remember the day when the PML-N won a by-election in Lahore for Kalsoom Nawaz back in 2017 but in 2018, the party lost the elections across Pakistan. Long story short, a political party may carry a day but may not repeat the history the next day.

So, the moral of this political column is: think once, if not twice, before making a political statement.


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