The Big Battle


The Punjab by-polls expected to take place on Sunday are going to be historic with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz pitched against each other for 20 Punjab Assembly seats first time after Imran Khan’s ouster from the government.

The by-polls also hold importance as they will reflect the support both the parties have garnered over the past month of electioneering and is also likely to set grounds for the general elections whenever they are held next. The elections for the provincial assembly seats hold political weightage as they will determine the future for Punjab and will see if Hamza Shehbaz’s controversial government continues to stay in power. Currently, the PML-N has advantage of four more votes in the provincial assembly to ensure a win in the chief minister election expected to take place on July 22. The PTI on the other hand needs at least 14 seats in Punjab Assembly to come back into power.

Both Imran Khan and Maryam Nawaz—who was spearheading the election campaign for PML-N—claim to clean sweep in the by-polls but it all comes down to the turnout and how many people the parties can convince to cast their votes tomorrow.  

Amidst soaring tensions of possible conflict between PTI and PML-N workers during the elections, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has already warned Imran Khan of keeping his ‘tigers’ within the law. In a video message he has asked the PTI party chief to refrain his supporters from rioting and taking law in their hands.

Meanwhile, Imran Khan has already cried foul alleging that the PML-N was supported by being supported by the ‘umpires’ a reference to the military establishment.

No matter what the outcome of the by-polls be, political instability will continue to haunt the country. If PTI manages to win the by-polls it can give a tough time to the federal government and stabilize itself for the general elections, however, if the party loses it will be cut off from the country’s politics. Similarlay, if the PML-N wins the by-polls it can work to further garner support of the people of Punjab and manage to make the province its stronghold before the general elections. But PML-N’s loss will serve as a severe blow to the party and will show them that they are losing their popularity.    

This political instability is likely to cause further economic instability pushing the economy to the brink of collapse.

What Pakistan needs right now is not a fight between two giants trying to prove their strength but rather an approach that can make things easier for the common man. This can only be achieved if the economic situation of the country is improved.

What happens tomorrow is a great test for both the PTI and PML-N. These by-polls are not just about who makes the Punjab government rather it sets the stakes for the future.

Basma Siddiqui
Basma Siddiqui
The writer is a journalist who has been associated with The Express Tribune and Bol News and can be reached @BasmaSiddiqui.
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