Pakistan Elections 2018

Pakistan is gearing up for its 2018 elections, with people going to cast their votes today for the National Assembly Elections. It’s an important movement in the democracy which has never seen a stable government since its inception in 1947 and it needs to be seen if this government is able to retain its power in the selected period. Ruled by governments which have not completed their terms and military rule which has caused much chaos in the Pakistani society, these elections come at a very critical time for the country which is facing a social, political and economically messy situation. Let’s try to find out why is Modi center of Pakistan Elections 2018.

The major leaders who are contesting for the Prime Ministership are Shehbaz Sharif from the PML-N (Pakistan Muslim League – N) party, who is the brother of the previous PM Nawaz Sharif embroiled in corruption scams who is leading the opinion polls followed by Bhilawal Bhutto Zardari, from the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and former cricketer Imran Khan whose Pakistan Tehrik-i-insaaf (PTI) has been making its political presence felt despite being a new party. These are major contenders in the elections although there are many religious and ethnic parties who have also been given the go-ahead this time.

Pakistan Elections 2018

These leaders have been touring across the country for their campaigns and what is surprising is that almost all the major leaders who are contesting the elections have been using PM Modi’s name in their election campaigns.

This, after it’s a known fact that both the countries have never had cordial ties with each other since Independence. Using PM Modi’s name in their election campaigns on one hand shows the impact he wields in not only India but in Pakistani society as well on one hand for the various policies he has undertaken – from surgical strikes to constructing a dam in Kashmir, these are the issues being raised by the candidates and in turn diverting attention from issues such as poverty, unemployment, corruption and other serious issues which the society faces.

Why are the leaders pointing at India during their campaign?

Like how Modi’s name was used in the General Elections 2014 to attract more votes and his strategy of attacking Pakistan, the candidates for Pakistan elections too are using the same strategy and using Modi’s name for their votes.

Pakistan Elections 2018
Source: Financial Express

Let us start with Imran Khan, the supposed change which these Pakistan elections might bring if he is voted to power. His campaign is about removing politics but more than that it is his campaign of throwing light on how Modi has been the cause of problems in India as well as in Pakistan and how the Indo-Pak relations are at their lowest end because of him.  In fact, such was his strategy that he seemed to hold former PM of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif at a higher pedestal praising him for his efforts in India-Pakistan relations despite the fact that he was ousted out because of corruptions allegations which were proved true against him and his family.

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In an interview, Hafeez Saeed, the terror mastermind of the 26/11 Blasts in Mumbai was seen as campaigning for his party Mila Muslim League which didn’t get a ticket but managed to tie with another dormant party Allah-hu Akbar Tehreek cleared by the Election Commission. He is not contesting this time, but that is not stopping him from campaigning for his party. He speaks of Indo-Pak relations too and accuses Modi of the surgical strikes and constructing a dam in Kashmir to stop the water flow for Pakistan. This coming from a person who was involved in destroying many lives in India. By creating an enemy of India, he is seen to garner the votes.

Pakistan Elections 2018
Source: The Wire

Talks of how parties like PML-N which have always looked to establish good relations with India are being seen as weak parties and this could prove to be fatal for India. PPP, for now, is more concerned with establishing its family back in politics although they had taken a tough stand against India and had condemned the actions of PM Nawaz Sharif.

How does Pakistan Elections 2018 Result matter for India?

In a campaign, Imran Khan, the leader of PTI mentioned that Modi as a leader is the main cause of the fallout between India and Pakistan and was seen praising his rival Nawaz Sharif for his role. This is a reverse from what he had said about Modi 3 years back for his policies then. Why this sudden turn? One reason which seems logical is that the Pakistani public is very angry about issues such as the surgical strikes, banning of artists and sportsmen etc. Add to that the major reason that in the global market Pakistan is being blacklisted by different groups and alliances. It enjoyed the support of the USA at one point in time in the international circuit, but this is no longer taking place. Pakistan’s association with terror and violence has been highlighted by Modi in all international platforms directly or indirectly. The country was greylisted in the Financial Action Taskforce after it churned out some guidelines to choke terror funding groups in a bid to being blacklisted which could have hurt the Pakistan economy even more and lead to a tremendous setback in the world.  Also, the fact that Pakistan enjoyed close proximity with China like siding with it on many issues like Silk Road, CPEC and others previously which was problematic for India which was facing a tough time from China in terms of border incursions (Doklam issue is an important one) in Arunachal Pradesh etc. and the CPEC which was passing through India. This had saved the government then. But, now when India and China are willing to let the past be and move ahead to forge better relations seems to worry our neighbour which is being sidelined by major powers. Russia-Pakistan relations are not at the peak now because Russia itself is facing issues in the International Politics. Thus, it can be seen that Pakistan which enjoyed comfortable benefits when close to US and China is now in terrible conditions with a falling political order, forceful push by the military rule their which doesn’t want good relations with India and the impoverished social and economic order will magnify if it is not being supported by these countries.

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Pakistan Elections 2018
Source: South China Morning Post

Of course, India is now looking to establish decent relations with China now and vice versa. In the case of USA, India is facing a dilemma right now for the US wants to impose sanctions against Iran which is an important crude oil supplier for India and India may not want to lose out on a dollar-based international system which has accelerated its growth and upset the superpower in its quest to maintain relations. This is a tricky international relations situation which the country will have to take a call on. But apart from this, the fact that the Trump government recently mentioned India as a ‘strategic partner’ to solve the Afghanistan terror crisis shows how much power India is currently able to wield globally and how its role is being stepped up and how it will have to be stepped up to stabilize the dynamics of South Asia along with China.

This is precisely the same reason why even Hafiz Saeed is talking about India and specifically Modi in his campaign. For one, he is internationally known as a terrorist and this is a serious offense considering how terrorism is causing much violence in today’s times. Secondly, by invoking issues closer to homes such as surgical strikes and more importantly water, he is influencing the common man who is concerned about these issues. Of course, his party is not coming to power that is a given but the job is done. India has now become the enemy and this might lead to severe problems in the near future both for Pakistan itself and for India.

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Statements like how India is tying up with the US to divide Pakistan are being made by Hafiz Saeed while on a positive note, PML candidate Sharif pointed out that if North Korea and the US could engage in talks, it may not be so difficult for India and Pakistan to do the same and if he comes to power he will indulge in comprehensive bilateral discussions to bring peace.

Thus, by targeting Modi, the candidates are very cleverly diverting their attention from issues at the ground level which is serious in nature and of utmost importance to progress like corruption, health, education, unemployment and poverty.

Pakistan Elections 2018 Result and its implication on India?

Pakistan Elections 2018
Source: Latestly.com

The India-Pakistan relations seem bleak unless PML-N comes to power. They have a softer stance towards India and are willing to indulge in a dialogue like how Nawaz Sharif and Modi were trying to initiate a dialogue to discuss the problems. Plus, there is the fact that the Prime Ministerial candidate Shehbaz Sharif is now standing up to the Army and this speaks volumes of how they can try and work out a stable form of government for Pakistan. That is something the country has not seen in decades. At least, there was some interaction between the two governments. With many opinion polls showing its lead by a slim margin, India can only hope for this to come true.

India-Pak relations will further deteriorate if any other party will come to power. PPP is just a king-maker which does not enjoy enough support to come to power on its own and might help another party to form the government. But, its leader too is seen to take a harsh stance against India. What is left is only PTI which as we have already seen is not wanting a favourable relationship with India and this is supposed because of the Military backing it has. This may not be a good thing for India.

The only thing India wants is a stable government which may not be influenced by the Army and one with which it can engage on bilateral issue for development and that is the only solution for Pakistan also if they want to climb the development ladder by putting an end to the terror, violence, and instability it has suffered all these years.

What do you think of Pakistan Elections 2018, let us know in the comment section.

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