Photograph courtesy of Take Back Pakistan

Pakistan is in the midst of the most violent and an anarchic election of its history. The electoral politics in Pakistan has polarized the internal factions of society and more importantly of the powerful security establishment. Hundreds have been killed so far in dozens incidents of violence, mostly taking place during the elections campaign. It is widely believed that the results of these elections are strategically important to decide the narrative about the future of Pakistan.

Decoding Violence

The violence has mostly centred in Pakhtunkhuwa, followed by the rest provinces, and has been targeting the campaigns of liberal and secular popular parties such as the Awami National Party (ANP), the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), and to some extent the Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). Some powerful candidates have been attacked, many have escaped but a couple of them have been killed, with the Taliban claiming responsibility of a large number of these incidents.

The elections in Pakistan are of strategic significance because of at least three basic factors including the ISAF withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2014; the saturated antagonism between liberals and extremists in Pakistan; and finally a race between the conservative and relatively liberal schools of thought within highly powerful security establishment. It is widely believed in Pakistan that the security establishment wants a right-wing government that would appease its aims with regard to a 2014 strategic engagement in Afghanistan, and revitalize its role within future statecraft.

Reigning Anarchy

Widespread violence during the election campaign in Pakistan is a result of the overpowering anarchy that prevails both in the society as well as within the institutions of state and the interplay between them. The changing socio-political chemistry in Pakistan has pushed various antagonistic political forces to confront each other, which are bound to change the structure of statehood in Pakistan after the election. During these periods of anarchy, the various sub-powers of the state continue to alter their position in attempts to impose rites on the wider society, most visibly from within the judiciary, army, and civil bureaucracy.


Around 200 independent candidates have entered into the elections, a broader selection than ever before in Pakistani politics, but their chances of winning seats remain slim. There are also a number of candidates who are civil society activists and from marginal sectors of society such as Dalits, transgender activists, artists, and women. However, there is little coordination between the candidates or groups at this stage, with the situation indicative of the reality of a developing middle class and youth in the country who are detaching from the mainstream traditional parties and political narratives.

Ethnic divide is another important aspect of these elections. Previously, Mutahida (previously Muhajir) Qaumi Movement (MQM) have focused their campaigns on ethno-linguistic lines, but today Sindhi, Baloch, and Pashtuns are tilting towards the ethno-nationalists narratives, which indicate that ‘ethnicity’ is steadily becoming the focus of politics in Pakistan.

Voter U-turn

Candidates of almost all traditional electoral political parties have witnessed an extraordinary wrath of voters for the first time in the history of Pakistan. Never before have the candidates of the PPP, PML-N, and MQM been poorly received by the public. PPP candidates have felt the worst of this in Sindh because of their legislation for the highly unpopular Sindh Local Government Act, which according to the people of Sindh, was an attempt of administratively dividing the province. In some parts, the candidates have also had their honour questioned due to their silence on injustices to the Hindu minority.

Province-wide Outlook

It is generally predicted that PPP will hold much of the seats in South Punjab, but they may well lose in SIndh and Balochistan due to the growth of nationalist movements in those. PML – N is predicted to be the winner in the central Punjab, Hazara division of Pakhtunkhuwa, along with an extremely thin representation from Sindh and Balochistan. ANP may comparatively neglect Pakhtunkhuwa. MQM is speculated to lose in Karachi and Hyderabad cities, where they have traditionally found their base of support. The religious parties like JUI (Fazal and Sami groups) and Jamat-e-Islami are likely to capture some seats in Karachi, South Punjab and in parts of Pakhtunkhwa, Balochsiatn and FATA. It is the first time that the chances of the Baloch nationalists, and nationalist-leaning parties in Sindh, including Pir Pagaro’s Muslim League, are so high among Sindhi and Balochi speaking voters. There is only an outside chance of Imran Khan’s PTI sweeping the board even in his own district of Mianwali in the Siraiki speaking Punjab.

What Lies in the Future?

It is widely predicted that the election results will break the dominant two-party system and replace it with multiparty rule, with no single party expected to form a majority government. This outcome would be most beneficial to the security establishment, and could set the language of future civil-military relations within the country. This change in political makeup will impact on the internal issues facing Pakistan such as the crises of federalism, security, and stability, but also on the country’s foreign policy regarding India and Afghanistan.


About Author

Zulfiqar Shah

Zulfiqar Shah is a stateless activist, analyst, and researcher. Although he is a refugee, and living a life in exile, he is a born Sindhi and South Asian and currently he lives in India. He is author of Beyond Federalism

1 Comment

  1. Dr. Ahmed H. Makhdoom on

    اَڃان ٿا چَئو “اِليڪشَن، اِليڪشَن، اِليڪشَن!”
    ۽ اَڃان ٿا “ڊيموڪريسيِ، ڊيموڪريسيِ، ڊيموڪريسيِ!” ڪَندا وَتو،،،،،،؛

    “Elections Art Fraud ‘n Frivolous, Democracy is Demonic
    ‘n Dubious”


    Dr. Ahmed H. Makhdoom

    اِليڪشَن؟ ڪَهڙي اِليڪشَن! ڇاجي اِليڪشَن! ڊيموڪريسيِ؟ ڪَهڙي
    ڊيموڪريسيِ! ڇاجي ڊيموڪريسي! اِهو سَڀ، اِليڪشَن ۽ ڊيموڪريسيِ، هِڪُ سَراسَر ڪوُڙُ
    آهي، وَڏيرَن ۽ پاڇاريِدارَن جو ظُلمُ ۽ فِراڊ آهي، هِڪُ ڦَڏو آهي، ڀَڇڙائيِ آهي، ڏيکُ
    آهي، ڏاڍائيِ آهي، ڏَنگُ ۽ زَهَرُ آهي!،،،،،؛

    In this illegitimate, illegal, ill-gotten and
    ill-conceived failed state known as ‘Pakistan,’ elections, whether they be for
    Parliament or Senate or even Local Governments are nothing but fraud,
    fraudulent and frivolous meant only to fracture the Truth and reality and fool,
    deceive, trick, delude and hoodwink simpleton, naïve, gullible, innocent and
    unsuspecting peoples of the glorious lands of Balochistan and Sindh!

    Over and over they come – the same savages, vultures,
    nitwits, cowards, tyrants, ignoble and unworthy compulsive liars, shameless
    looters, pathetic plunderers and venomous snakes! They give very eloquent
    speeches – because they and their sons and daughters have been taught in the
    British Colonial system and setup and brought up in the posh, privileged
    comfort zone of English Lordly and High Class zone! What do they know about
    serving the poor, hungry, thirsty, shirt-less, loaf-less, shelter-less people
    of Sindh and Balochistan!

    سِنڌُ کي ۽ بَلوچِستان کي اِليڪشَڻ ڇا ڏِنو آهي؟ سِنڌُ کي
    ۽ بَلوچِستان کي ڊيموڪريسِي مان ڇا مِليو آهي؟ ڪُجهُ سوڇَ ڪَريو! اِنڌا نَه ٿيو! اوُندَه
    ۾ نَه رَهو! هَلڪڙائِپَ ۽ ٽَرِڙآئِپَ نَه ڌاريو! جاڳو! اُٿو! اَڳتي وَڌو!،،،،،؛

    By taking part in Elections and voting these infidel
    and inhuman, heartless and mindless, senseless and gutless filthy rich and
    power-hungry Tribal Chiefs, Feudal Lords, Waddeiraas, Zameendaars, Pathareedaars
    and scums of the society, you are empowering them to punch you, puncture you,
    pulverize you and punish you! These scoundrels will lead you, as they and their
    fathers and forefathers have done in the past towards poverty, destitution,
    deprivation, degradation and destruction!

    سالَن کان وَٺي، جَڏَنهِن کان هيئُ حَرامزادو، ناجائِزُ مُلڪ
    پاڪِستان وَجوُد ۾ آيو آهي، اَڄُ تائيِن ڪِٿي اَصُلِيَتَ ۽ سَچائَ جااِليڪشَن
    ٿيا آهين؟ هِن مَصنوعيِ مُلڪَ ۾ ڪِٿي ۽ ڪَڏَنهِن عَوام کي پَنهِنجا حَقَ مِليا آهين؟
    ڪِٿي ڊيموڪريسيِ آئي آهي هِنَ لُچي، ڌاڙيلَ، زَهريِلي مُلڪَ ۾؟ ساڳائيِ چورَ، خوُني،
    رَهزَنَ؛ ساڳائي زَميندارَ، وَڏيرا، پاٿاريِدارَ،
    پيِرَ، شاهَ، مَخدوُمَ، جَتوئيِ، ڀُٽا، زَرداري، پِشتِ دَر پُشتِ پيا حُڪومَتَ ڪَن،
    سِنڌ ُ ۽ مِسڪينَ سِنڌيَن کي لُٽِن، ڦُرِن ۽ موچڙا هَڻَن! وَري بِه موٽي ساڳيائي بَگهِيَڙَ،
    بُڇڙا، ڀاڙيا، ٻَگهَ ۽ مِروُن پيا ايِندا ۽ هَرَ هَرَ، وريِ وَري پيا ايندا! ڪُجهُ
    اَکيوُن کوليو ۽ سَمجهَ ڌارِيو!،،،،؛

    Now, if you think that this is what you and your
    generations deserve, that is your destiny and that is what you and your
    children are prepared to accept and

    Live with, then GO AHEAD AND VOTE!

    But, if you are a son and daughter of valiant,
    veritable, verdant and versatile Balochs and Sindhis and you love your LIFE ‘n
    FREEDOM, Respect ‘n Honour, Dignity ‘n Values, then, please….. for Heaven’s
    sake, for the sake of your children and future generations, for the sake
    of your Motherland and Fatherland, for
    the honour and dignity of your Land……:

    STOP IT! BOCOTT these sham, fraud and frivolous

    اڄ بَلوچِستانَ اِليڪشَن جو بائيڪاٽ ڪَريو! سِنڌيَن کي بِه
    پَنهِنجي مَقَدَر کي پَنهِنجي هَٿَ ۾ کَڻَڻُ گهُرجي۔۔۔۔ ۽ وَڏي واڪي چَئجي، “نَه
    کَپي اِها ڪوُڙي اِليڪشَن، نَه کَپي اِها فِراڊ ڊيموڪريسيِ، نَه کَپي اِهو غَليض، ظالِمُ
    ۽ ٽيرورِسٽ مُلڪُ پاڪِستان”!،،،،؛

    They fool you and take your for a ride with words
    like, ‘DEMOCRAC!’ Let me tell you there is no DEMOCRACY in this miserable,
    evil, wicked, demonic and rogue state of Pakistan! Democracy has never ever,
    since the very ignominious appearance of this Humpty Dumpty state of Pakistan
    in 1947, been the rule, principle and way of life for the people, by the people
    and with the people!

    DEMONOCARCY, the Rule of the Demons and Ogres, savages
    and brutes, barbarians and vultures has ALWAYS been the constitution, culture
    and practice in this corrupt and failed state. And, the decent, honest,

    Docile and simple of Sindh and Balochistan have been
    on the receiving end of the tyranny and torment engineered by the so-called
    ‘elected’ rulers of this most terrorist and corrupt state in the world!

    Balochs have BOCOTTED the Elections – they are MOVING,
    MARCHING ahead and onward! The Valiant Baloch leaders and the entire veritable
    Nation of Balochistan! We salute then, commend them and pay our humble homage
    to them for their praiseworthy, apt, fitting and felicitous decision to BOYCOTT
    such eye-wash and unworthy elections in this illegitimate rogue, corrupt and
    failed state known as ‘Pakistan, which had enslaved and enchained Sindh and
    Balochistan for over six decades!’

    My only hope, wish and prayers are that the tormented
    and terrorized, punched and punctured, boxed and bulldozed Sindhis will also
    see the Light of the Day, boycott elections and pick up arms to defend
    themselves, their children, their honour, their Freedom and their Motherland!

    پاڻهئيِن ڪَندو هوتُ، پَرَ توُن بِه تَه ٿِجُ ڪُجهُ


    kando Hotu, para tuun bi ta thiju kujhu aggabahro!”


    Good Lord shall Guideth thee verily,

    ye too must moveth ahead heartily!”

    Bhittai: Translated by Ahmed Makhdoom)


    تاريخُ ڪو هِڪڙُو
    سَوَن پَنَن جو ڪِتابُ ناهي! تاريِخَ هِڪ حَقيِقَتَ، هِڪَ سَچائيِ، هِڪَ سوچَ ء هِڪُ
    سوجهرو ۽ هِڪُ سَبَق آهي! تاريِخَ جو هَر هِڪ پيجُ، وَرَقُ، پَنو، صُفحو هِڪڙو دَرسُ
    ۽ سيکَتِ سِکيا آهي! تاريِخَ پَڙهو، ڪُجهُ سَمجهو، پوءِ ڪُجهُ پِرايو، سبَقُ حاصِلُ
    ڪَريو، ڪُجهُ ڪَري ڏيکاريو! جيڪَڏَنهِن اڃان بِه نَه سِکيِوَ، پرايُوَ ۽ ڪَيُوَ،،،
    پوءِ، اَلوءِ!،،،،سِنڌيَن جي ٻيڙيِ ٻُڏيِ! اَبوءِ! سِنڌُ تَباحيِ ۽ بَربادئَ جي گهُپُ
    اَنڌاري آڙاهَ ۾ نيِستُ ۽ نابوُدُ ٿي ويِنديِ!
    جئي جيجَل سنڌُڙِي، واڪا ڪَرِڻُ موُن وَسِ (دُعاگوُ اَحمدِ مَخدوُمُ)؛

    Balochistan has vociferously declared the BOCOTT of
    Elections! Sun is surely rising in Balochistan! Sindh is STILL under the RULE,
    SERVITUDE and CHAIND of SLAVERY of the FEUDAL LORDS – the Bhuutos, the
    Zardaris, the Durranis, the Peers, the Shahs, the Makhdooms, the Jatois, the
    Mullahs, etc., etc! Sadly, it is still Darkness in Sindh!

    Long Live Balochistan! Long Live Sindh!

    ھجو شال سسداٸين؍ لکين قرب ۽ مهربانيون؍ اوهان جا لک لائق ۽ احسان؍ عَرضُ آهي تَه سِنڌُ
    کان وَڌيڪَ ڪو ٻيو ديسُ سُنهِڻو ناهي، پَرَ ڏُکُ اِهو آهي تَه ٻَگهَن ڪَئي گَدليِ
    ۽ اَٻاليِ مُنهِنجيِ مِٺڙيِ سِنڌُڙيِ، سِنڌ
    کي آزادُ ڪَري وَريِ ٻيِهَرَ جياريو، سَنواريو ۽ سيِنگارِيو، جئي سِنڌ (اَحمَدِ مَخدوُمُ)؛

    And, I am just a simple, humble and long suffering Son
    of Sindh,

    Ahmed Makhdoom,