A SWOT analysis of Pakistan’s political parties

Published: April 21, 2013
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MQM probably has the largest pool of educated candidates from middle class social strata and ANP has won over the Pakhtuns.

The following is an analysis of our political parties gauged on their Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT):

Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N)

Strengths:

PML-N has a strong following in Punjab – the largest and most powerful province in Pakistan. Furthermore, it has a great alignment with right wing groups and religious circles. Major cities of Punjab have seen tremendous development during the last five years.

Weaknesses:

PML-N has not been able to carry out any substantial development in remote areas and far off villages of Punjab. It has teamed up with same old faces that previously supported and strengthened a dictator’s government.

Opportunities:

The poor performance of Sindh, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) governments in the last five years has created a vacuum which can certainly be filled up by PML-N.

Threats:

PML-N faces a possible setback in terms of their vote bank by the growing popularity of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab. They are also being labelled as a patron of extremist groups in the country, which has further dented their credibility as a progressive political party.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)

Strengths:

PPP has a strong bond with the rural populace of Sindh and a few pockets in urban centres. The legacy of Bhutto still stands strong today and PPP has been successfully cashing on to it. Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) is another project that won them accolades among the poor masses.

Weaknesses:

PPP has displayed the poorest performance ever in the history of Pakistan with a few high profile corruption cases against their mainstream leadership. Bilawal Zardari lacks leadership qualities and has no connection with the common workers (jiyalas) of PPP and currently enjoys all the support just because of his late mother Benazir Bhutto. Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari is famous worldwide for his alleged corruption and his stay on the top slot has forced a lot of die hard workers and PPP stalwarts to distance themselves from the party.

Opportunities:

PPP can utilise its popular support in rural Sindh and BISP project in order to secure a land sliding victory in the upcoming elections.

Threats:

Being a liberal party, PPP is under constant threat by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Jamaat-e-Islami (JI)

Strengths:

Jamaat-e-Islami has a strong following among religious circles. Their network across the nation on a whole remains strong and effective. JI has stayed corruption free and their top tier leadership has managed to stay out of scandals with their simple way of life and religious inclination. Ex-mayor Naimatullah Khan gave Karachi a major uplift during his tenure which won JI a huge fan base.

Weaknesses:

JI’s pessimistic approach towards politics has strengthened their position as critics of the highest order, but there has been no constructive and productive role from their side towards forming a national government.

Opportunities:

JI and its student wing Islami Jamiat Talaba (IJT) have great potential in mobilising students for national and religious causes. This street power if utilised effectively can be converted into votes in the next elections.

Threats:

JI has lost all its ground in Karachi which was previously considered as a strong hold for them. Their stringent and stubborn approach has singled them out and now they have to struggle to regain their vote bank.

Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM)

Strengths:

MQM probably has the largest pool of educated candidates from middle class social strata. They have a strong and effective infrastructure and a defined code of conduct where all party workers including top tier leadership have to maintain strong discipline and follow orders regardless of their position within and outside the party hierarchy. Ex-mayor Mustafa Kamal, during his tenure, had done wonders for the city of Karachi which speaks volumes of the vision of MQM.

Weaknesses:

The founder of MQM Mr Altaf Hussain for various reasons has been living in self-exile which often results in a plethora of accusations and concerns shown by media and politicians from time to time. During their last tenure, their swapping of roles from government to opposition and opposition to government benches pointed towards confused policy making.

Opportunities:

MQM manifesto if properly implemented can change the face of this country. Their stand against feudalism and extremism can bring about a revolution if they are given a chance to show their performance on the national front. Their pool of educated young men and women mostly from middle income group can contribute very effectively towards the progress of Pakistan.

Threats:

TTP remains a constant threat to MQM due to their liberal stance.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)

Strengths:

Imran Khan’s philanthropy and success story of Shaukat Khanam Hospital is the main driving force behind PTI. He has successfully mobilized and brought the youth of Pakistan under PTI’s umbrella which was otherwise clueless and least concerned regarding the political future of the country.

Weaknesses:

PTI lacks discipline. The party has big names among its top tier leadership but they seem to be promoting their own personal agendas rather than spreading Imran Khan’s message. PTI workers have little patience and lack political insight.

Opportunities:

PTI has never been tried and tested. They are fresh out of the bag and ready to bring a change. Elections 2013 give the party an excellent opportunity to bring into action all the promises that they have made.

Threats:

PTI’s only threat is its own leaders who haven’t really enjoyed a clean and credible past.

Pakistan Muslim League Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q)

Strengths:

PML-Q enjoys massive support in rural Punjab. It has successfully tapped into the vacuum left behind when Nawaz Sharif was sent packing by Pervez Musharraf. Their alliance with PPP provided them another ruling stint and thus cementing their position in the electoral politics of Pakistan even though they started off as a king’s party.

Weaknesses:

In the last couple of years, PML-Q has experienced further disintegration into smaller groups and change of loyalties by their once strong party stalwarts.

Opportunities:

PML-Q enjoys good working relationship with MQM and PPP. With a little seat adjustment in Sindh they can bag a sizable amount of votes both in Punjab and Sindh provided they tap in traditional strongholds of Sindhi nationalist groups.

Threats:

The only threat to PML-Q is PML-N which has once again established itself as its strong opponent in Punjab.

Awami National Party (ANP)

Strengths:

ANP has quite successfully managed to win over the Pakhtuns of K-P and Sindh and in the last five years, the continued law and order situation in the urban centres specifically Karachi further polarised the situation on ethnic lines hence strengthening the traditional Pakhtun vote bank of ANP.

Weaknesses:

ANP’s exclusively Pakhtun-centric politics has restricted their voter base to traditional Pushto speaking communities and thus a limited vote bank.

Opportunities:

This party can take electoral advantage of the rapidly growing Pakhtun presence in urban regions of Sindh and thus emerge as a strong political entity in the next elections

Threats:

ANP is probably the only political party that has suffered the most in terms of assassinations of their leaders and workers by TTP for their liberal approach and communist ideology. They remain the TTP’s prime target.

Read more by Arsalan here.

Arsalan Faruqi

Arsalan Faruqi

An entrepreneur with a degree in computer engineering and an MBA from IBA Karachi. He tweets as @arsalanfaruqi (twitter.com/arsalanfaruqi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.