What to expect from Elections 2013

Published: November 12, 2011

Anyone who thinks that the PPP will be wiped out is kidding themselves.

In the last two weeks we have seen a flurry of political activity across Pakistan. Be it the rally in Karachi or the jalsa in Lahore, the political temperature of the country seems to be finally heating up after slowly simmering for the last two years. The reason is the impending elections that are expected to be held in 2013.

It is natural that alliances are being formed, seat adjustments are being negotiated, and parties are becoming more aggressive in their rhetoric. Unlike the last elections in 2008, where there were numerous parties contesting, the upcoming elections present a fairly different picture. Over the last few years the election battle has created two groups of political parties that will battle it out in the next general elections. I realize that this does not seem so right now, but hear me out.

To start with, let’s categorize these alliances as the ‘incumbents‘ and the ‘challengers‘.

The incumbents

In the last one year it has become clear that the PPP, PML-Q, ANP and MQM will stay together. In order to understand why they will stay together, we need to take a closer look at each party involved.


This party has come under criticism from all angles; even its own members are criticizing the party. It feels as if everyone in Pakistan hates them because that is what we see on the media. However, the reality is different.

Back in July I wrote a piece that argued that the PPP would come back to power in the next general elections. I still maintain my claim. With 121 seats in the National Assembly, the PPP has managed to stay in power for almost four years without any major hiccups. There were times when everyone thought that the government would collapse but it held through, scoring a stronger majority than the party started out with (by bringing PML-Q on board to rebuke any further pressure from MQM). So if they managed all this while the economy was in a free fall and with everyone hating them, then you have to give them credit and know that they are not going to be unprepared for the next elections. Plus their power base is Sindh, especially the rural areas, while they still maintain pockets of influence in Punjab. So, anyone who thinks that PPP will be wiped out is kidding themselves.


Like the People’s Party, the Q league is hated by the general public. But what no one gives them credit for is that the party is probably the smartest political party in Pakistan. Once the PPP called the Q league the ‘Qatil’ (murderer) League but now they manage to share a government. The same people who called them names have been forced to sit with them for the political well-being of both parties. The political survival of both the PPP and PML-Q is dependent on each other; on their own they will have a tough fight in Punjab and Balochistan, but together they can maintain a majority.

Moreover, the Q league is made up of politicians who are constituency politicians i.e. they have a strong presence in their areas and are virtually guaranteed a seat. In the last elections the Q league got lost out due to a vote split as well as a strong showing by the PML-N but this time around, with the new seat adjustment deal they are assured one on one fights in most areas with the added support of PPP voters. So while people might not be giving them credit right now, the Q league has a genuine shot at coming back with 50 odd seats in the next general elections.


While our national media does not give ANP much importance, the fact is that ANP is crucial to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and Pakistan. Without ANP, the PPP would not be able to rule KP. Since the last elections, ANP has been accused of corruption and bad governance. Under their government the province has suffered economically to the point where the people have started praising the days of JUI-F. So while ANP will likely not get many votes in the next election, it will probably lose a maximum of five seats out of the 13 NA seats they currently have. Most of the damage would be at the provincial level, but given that they are part of the alliance with the PPP, PML-Q and MQM, they will be part of any future government.


They have 25 seats and they will get these 25 seats again. It is absolutely pointless to even dwell on the election results of MQM because their vote bank is rock solid plus every time they are not in government, things just do not work out for Karachi. So as part of their uneasy alliance with the PPP, they are staying put and will remain part of any future government in the future.

So while these four parties clearly form one side, the other side is a bit tricky to outline. The fact that the PPP, Q league, MQM and ANP are already allies will only help them to further consolidate their election year positions by negotiating seat adjustments and forming closer ties.

The other side, however, is still in disarray but will eventually come together. For the sake of the argument let’s just call them the challengers.

The challengers


The party has consolidated its influence over their existing constituency. They have often slammed the government, however, their own governance in Punjab has not been above reproach.

Currently the PML-N is lonely but fairly popular as far as national politics are concerned. The party understands that it cannot govern without an alliance with other parties and has started talking to the like minded group as well as others who deserted the party after Musharraf created the Q league. Chances are that these deserters would probably return as they need to belong to a party to continue their political career. In addition to this, the PML-N wants to assimilate the forward block in Punjab to field winning candidates in the next elections. But the party has a long way to go. It is likely that the PML-N will form an alliance with centre-right and regional parties such as JI, PPP Sherpao, PTI, BNP, JWP, SNP and so on, as thy are ideologically more comfortable with these parties as compared to the MQM or ANP.


After boycotting the last elections, the JI has been out of active politics for a while. They do not have members in any assembly. So while many are quick to dismiss them straight away, the party is out to prove its critics wrong. They have been working hard in the KP region to regain their popularity that they had lost as part of the MMA with JUI-F. Add to this the inept governance of ANP, the JI is mending fences in their former strongholds of Swat, Bajaur, Upper and Lower Dir, Mardan and Kohat. In addition to this, the party has a loyal following in southern Punjab where they held a few provincial seats during 2002 to 2007 and have been investing time and effort in those areas.

Given that JI has ideological differences with the PPP, MQM and ANP, their logical choice is to work with a centre right or ideally a rightist party. So expect the JI to sit down with the PML-N and the PTI either before or after the elections to form a coalition as simply put, they have nowhere else to go.


Having been around for 15 years, the PTI can finally say that it is their time now. They say that they can sweep the elections, but fact of the matter is that they can’t and they won’t.

Their primary presence is in Punjab, and that is their area of focus. I am not going to speculate how many seats they will win, but whatever they win, they will have to sit down with others to form a coalition. And while many suggest they will gain a majority, they will not as they do not have enough constituency candidates right now. However, with the inclusion of Shah Mahmood Qureshi, they will gain a decent number so that they can at least negotiate a good deal for themselves.

Now the thing is, ideologically the PTI is on the same wavelength as PML-N and JI, and while their supporters might not like it, the PTI will eventually have to sit down with these parties as just like JI they have nowhere else to go. So what seems to be an unholy alliance between the PTI, PML-N and JI, to a lot of people right now is it an election reality that will eventually happen.

There are a lot of other parties that I did not mention and the reason is that these parties will simply side with the group that holds the majority. Parties like JUI-F, Jehangir Tareen’s Clean Party and PML-F have guaranteed seats, and they do not like to sit in the opposition.

The fact is the next election is going to be the most divisive election ever seen in Pakistan. The two sides that are pointed out above are not random thoughts; they are the political realities of Pakistan.


Adnan Khalid Rasool

Currently the Deputy Executive Director Center for Enterprise, Trade and Development, Adnan is also a political analyst working mainly on electoral politics and political campaign management. He tweets at @adnanrasool

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

  • Parvez

    The factor that you have left out is the ‘people factor’. This time the people are frustrated and angry, if they decide to stand up and be counted then most of your predictions go out the window. Its a big ‘if ‘but then strange things happen in politics and elections. Recommend

  • Tatom

    Well researched and lets see kia hota hay but agreed wd u on MQM & ANP….Recommend

  • Rehan

    Brilliant analysis!
    So, the moderates (PPP, ANP) versus the people who implicitly support militants (PTI, JI). Wonder who would be callous enough to vote for the second! But, Pakistanis never cease to amaze me.
    Elections in exactly 13 months now!

  • Salman Imtiaz

    Disagreed.Don’t the People know what damage, especially, these ‘incumbent’ parties have done to the country?Recommend

  • Sajid.

    PTI Troll Brigade will now activate their defense mechanism, most likely their favorite one, Denial, and say No No PTI is not like JI. The fact of the matter is that JI – Beard + Good English – Urdu – Shalwar Kameez + Dolce & Gabbana = PTI.
    This time Pakistan needs a left leaning progressive and liberal party, not a frustrated group of confused Burger Kings. Recommend

  • Yasir Mansoor

    Sad But True.Recommend

  • Umar Akram

    I absolutely agree with your point of view, this is the truth and people have to accept it. Although even I as much as the other person may not like the present- government setup we have to accept the basic truth which is evident. But remember in politics it is always to soon to say, but I don’t expect anything really shocking in the next elections.Recommend

  • Mirza

    The articale mentions that JI doesn’t have any members in any of the assemblies… They do have a lone senator – Professor Khursheed.Recommend

  • Sheharyar Ahmed Siddiqui

    Pathetic analysis Recommend

  • Shuaib

    @Sajid.: Bleh!Recommend

  • omer

    nice article but u forgot one party and that is GHQ party …. dun u think army will also play a bigger role in these elections or they gona be just the audiance …. watsoever these elections are going to change the destination of Pakistan ….Recommend

  • Ahmed Baksh

    Dont agree
    It will be PTI+JI+JUI+MQM + all the lotas
    Mark my word.
    All of them will be backed by the army and voila there you go thats the government.
    Even though it does not seem likely at this point but the trend suggests the Establishment backed parties will unite somehow.Recommend

  • IHM

    A very good analysis done.

    PPP and its partners will come to power again so in the greater national interest PTI, PMLN and JI should make an electoral alliance.

    I am a supporter of PTI and I want it to come to power but sadly I’m a realist. If PTI doesnt get in an alliance with JI or PMLN it will not get more than 20 seats and Imran Khan will also have trouble winning his own seat.Recommend

  • NA

    Same old analysis. Do not underestimate the people of pakistan as now they’ve had enough.Recommend

  • http://NewYork Falcon

    The day you find that left-leaning and most importantly “PROGRESSIVE” party that is truly able to deliver the results and cares about every citizen of Pakistan rather than just their own ethnicity, please do enlighten us! Recommend

  • Nadeem Durrani

    I m agree with you sir, but in KP province PPP SHERPAO will play a vital role in the coming contest. Recommend

  • Fahad


    I do not see PPP winning good seats in Punjab even if they side with PMLQ. Similarly, ANP and PPPP alliance wont do any good to them in KPK. In Sindh, PPPP would be having a good hold while in the Karachi City, an alliance of PTI and JI would decrease the seats MQM held earlier (atleast at Provincial Level)
    ANP & PMLQ (10 & 42 NA Seats in 2008) would be at great lost in 2013. ANP would not get the seats in double figure while PMLQ would not be able to cross 30 seats in the coming elections.

    The vote bank of PPP in Punjab would move towards Imran’s PTI while in Sindh PPPP would almost maintain it.

    In addition, PMLN would get some considerable number of seats whose various seats would be eaten by PTI / JI alliance.

    However, the situation would get maturer as we get close Electioneering 2013! Recommend

  • Sajid.

    I don’t want to take you head-on brother, but I think Imran Khan has filled the void that was there in our lot of politicians and hence has put the prospect of a truly visionary coming into the political scene by a decade! In it’s true sense, Liberal is free of bias. Recommend

  • Democrazy Now

    Ridiculous how PTI is even being compared to JI. Any logical analysis would clearly demonstrate otherwise. The top tier of PTI is covered by the full spectrum of ethnic and religious groups. Firdous Naqvi and Dr Aref Alvi are both Shias of different kinds. Imran Khan is a moderate Sunni. Others are pretty much secular and don’t particularly identify themselves as one religious group or another. You have people from Multan, Karachi, Islamabad…from abroad and home grown….from all walks of life. PTI has detailed plans on how to handle everything from education to international trade and banking….these plans have been prepared by working groups of volunteers and have gone through great study and critique before being incorporated into party policy. You don’t need connections to rise in the ranks of PTI, you just need to be honest and work towards it. I have my issues with Imran Khan and I don’t call myself a PTI member either…but for anybody to say that PTI is like JI is just ridiculous. PTI is the only genuinely neat and clean party. How anybody could be a supporter of PPP despite all the blatant corruption and mismanagement is just beyond me…..when things get rough, PPP always reveals that its a pseudo-Sindhi party just below the surface, the MQM reveals its an Mohajir/Urdu speaking party, ANP is a pathan party…PMLN over-represents Punjab, JI is just meant as a cruel joke upon sincere Muslims…a kinda wild goose chase to keep them busy doing other things so they don’t get in the way….JUI is an even worse and more hypocritical version of JI…..PMLQ is an artificial entity and a party of opportunists and lotas….who else is left? .the way I see it, you need to be either involved in the corruption yourself, be totally uneducated and oblivious to reality, or be mentally ill in order to support PPP, ANP, MQM, PMLN or any of these other parties. PTI is the best option and they truly deserve a chance. Recommend

  • http://www.tanzeel.wordpress.com Tanzeel

    But what role establishment is going to play this time ?Recommend

  • Mohammad Assad

    I dont see PTI making alliances with anybody. Either they get 2/3rds majority in Parliament(which is difficult) or they stay in opposition.Recommend

  • Ali

    stupid piece of writing making no sense…PTI will inshAllah sweep wait and watch :)Recommend

  • Dr. Muhammad ali memon

    PTI will sweep this election INSHA ALLAH.Recommend

  • Rasikh Abbasi

    Any one who thinks that PPP will form a government again is kidding themselves too :P
    Time will tell whos goana rock and whos gaona form government.
    Dont forget those 25 to 40 % people who have never casted their votes before.Be statistical more then anticipation. PTI has strong influence in KPK as well.specially in HAZARA division.it Contains 7 NA seats along with probably over 20 PA seats..PML n has already lost their credibility on issue of SOOBA HAZARA..They have been cursed by people of hazara division severely..
    In karachi dont forget the power of Jamate islami as well.they have their influence in khi as well.So if IK nd JI collaborated, it will definitely create problems for MQM and PPP.
    How ever Fair Elections with fair Will of People is mandatory.Recommend

  • Ishrat Salim

    Remember my words…..transistional govt will be created by the establishment by 2013 ( nearing election time ) & IK will be installed as a interim PM…..elections will be postponed on one excuse or the other & IK will be given the oppurtunity to prove his capabilities for the next one / two years thru his own selected team….this will give people the chance to compare IK / PTI performance between other political parties after which formal election schedule will be announced…..this is how IK / PTI will be patronised, thus increasing IK / PTI chance of winning with majority vote in the next election….because people are fed up & want to see change….this is the only way to PUSH IK / PTI into limelight…

    Otherwise, the above analysis is realistic….however, Pakistan is a strange country…..anything can happen….e.g AAZ is an accidental President ( a mentally unfit person as per medical certificate submitted in UK court ) & PPP came to power due to BBs sympathy vote....& AAZ is the only benificiary of BBs death…Recommend

  • Corrupt

    //They have 25 seats and they will get these 25 seats again. It is absolutely pointless to even dwell on the election results of MQM because their vote bank is rock solid//

    Everyone knows how MQM wins the election & like your claims, let me predict something…MQM will lose at least 5-6 seats in Karachi.Recommend

  • Sanity

    Agree with you.

    In Pakistan, the voting pattern does not change much really, due to prevailing Feudal system.

    The establishment must be very happy with either of the combinations (PPP + ANP + MQM or PTI + JI), they would not want a single party to sweep the elections. Recommend

  • tanvir

    Pathetic analysis by this author.
    PML Q is going to be wiped out except 5-10 members, rest being divided between PML N and PTI. So one supposed limb of PPP election strategy will already be broken. Moreover, PPP will suffer biggest defactions of its history in Punjab, especially south Punjab and will have to contend with its stronghold i.e. rural Sindh. Even in rural Sindh they will get tough challenge this time around by “Qaum Parast” (any one remember how AZ has lost of weakened his Sindh Card by playing childhish on issue of local government. These nationalists will join any one who would be making government. ANP has lost lot of ground in KPK to PTI (the writer has conveniently forgotten the gallup poll, where PTI was leading the popular vote. remember that was in JULY). MQM’s vote bank is solid, bravo for the author to guess it right. So much for the incumbants. In Balochistan, mostly the tribal chiefs contest independently so that they may join the potential govt setup in ISD, that is not the deciding factor.
    Now the challengers. PML N is strong enough but will depend on how it conducts itself into the election one year from now. And off course it will depend how PTI will challenge, who would be banking on maximum time delay they could get before election. PTI & JI would go into alliance. And the final bet would between PML N plus its allies versus PTI and its allies. Recommend

  • Abdul Rehman Gilani

    @Democrazy Now:

    I would not call JI hypocritical. They are conservative at best, and backward at worst. But there are not tainted with corruption. And ironically, they are the most democratic party of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Hassan

    Yeh left leaning and progrressive party kiya cornflakes kay daabay main say niklay gi????Recommend

  • Amir

    What a pity that these so called political analysts have always been wrong about PTI. Its however not their fault really; unfortunately these people have never seen the politics of principles and ideology in Pakistan which is the only socio-political experience in their lives.

    PTI should not and will not get into an alliance just for the sake of sitting in a government. In case they don’t get the ruling majority they have only two choices:
    – seek for an alliance based on the ideology and principles of the party; no compromise on the principles!
    – sit in the opposition and work for a politics of principles, steering the country in the right direction

    Any thing else would be suicidal for both PTI and Pakistan!Recommend

  • Ather Sultan

    Who has caused more damage to Pakistan, the incumbents (whom u call moderates) or the challengers (whom u call ppl implicitly supporting militants) during the last three and a half years? There is a difference between supporting militancy and commiting militancy (MQM/ANP in Karachi)…..Recommend

  • Ather Sultan

    You have missed the names of two other senators belonging to JI-Professor Ibrahim and Doctor Aafia ZiaRecommend

  • Mustafa Zafar Chaudhary

    Another sorry story
    While an ardent supporter of Imran Khan I am utterly disappointed by the overnight addition of old crooks and thieves in PTI’s bandwagon, illustrations of which are people like Shah Mahmud Qureshi ( Ex-Foreign Minister) and Malik Azhar ( Ex-President of PML-Q Lahore Chapter) and etc. While it is expected that the Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) under the leadership of Imran Khan would be carefully in selecting its ticket holders in different constituencies, there is an increasing fear that stakeholders of the present order are playing their cards to get into the ranks of The Tehrik. The only hope is Khan Sahib’s history of not selling his goals cheaply for Political gains. The nation looks towards The PTI to save it from the debilitating circumstances it finds itself in, and mind you there are no easy bargains to achieve the often stated noble objectives of The League like rooting out corruption, abdicating feudalism and doing away with the status-quo in general. Recommend

  • Raja Islam

    PTI, PML (N), PML (Q) and MQM are establishment parties. In addition PTI has the young liberal supporters, but aligns itself with Jamaat- i- Islami. PTI has no standing anywhere other than the Punjab and that also is limited. In terms of fair elections PTI will not be able to win seats in the double digits. The only way that PTI would come into power is that the establishment presses PPP to form a neutral interim government with Imran as its head and either keeps on postponing elections or disqualifies some of the existing members of parliament and does a bit of arm twisting of several others to get them to support PTI.

    If no hanky panky comes into play and fair elections are held, PPP will again form the government and MQM will maintain its seats with PML (N) losing a few seats to PTI.Recommend

  • http://djdurrani.blogspot.com Saad Durrani

    I am not sure why it is so established that PTI is a good looking version of Jamaat-e-Islami. It was Imran Khan who spoke against Qadri the Killer, while we all know where the priorities of the People’s Party lied.

    PPP is turning into a hot mess in Sindh. Wassan and Mirza are doing cat-fights. If the writer would have only consulted the recent Gallup poll, he would have known that if PPP wins in 2013, it will not have a clear-cut majority—unless, the polls are rigged. The 2013 elections will cause more trouble than the one we had in 2008.Recommend

  • Ather Sultan

    While the departure of Shah Mehmood Qureshi from PPP and joining PTI expectantly would prove to be a big political tremor, the faux pas made by Imran Khan yesterday saying that Kayani will work under him has put PTI in an embarassing position.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/202/adnan-rasool/ Adnan Rasool

    Everyone saying PTI has tough stance on terrorism, honestly I do not care but still check out this link cause honestly it just made me feel sad for PTI…

  • shappal

    for all PTI supporterz, dont forget the groud realities of pk society. u literate people are in numberz in pk. A mbbs doctor vote is equal to an illiterate person. This is ur worth in democrazy.jRecommend

  • abbas

    my views is that pti will win atleast 2-3 seats in the provincial assembly of sindh,15-25 Na from punjab,and 5-10 from other assemblies..means they will get about 35-40 seats in the national assembly..they can win seat from from karachi of anp,and if they collide with mqm they can win ppp seats,and if am agree that mqm vote bank is rock solid and can win about 30 seats of NA in next general election,addition of seats may b frm sukkur,nawabshah and multan..and there is no sign of pti and ji coalation,pti wid more serious effort can win alot more seats..Recommend