by Dr Akram Khan

It has been interesting to observe the heated debates by followers of Imran Khan, who is at the height of his popularity on Internet, closely followed by Musharraf. Imran’s followers are in high spirits and they want to continue the momentum and translate that into electoral success. All of this is very positive for the political development of society, which has been traditionally confused between military rule and democracy.

Although majority of the debates on electronic media has become between everyone versus PMLN, the biggest battles are usually observed between PTI and PMLN supporters, who both share the same target of a “Prosperous Pakistan” but through different approach.

Strict lines were drawn specifically by PTI supporters, after two of the biggest problems of Pakistan as repeatedly explained by Imran Khan were resolved by PMLN – Removal of Military Dictator after 9 years through threat of Impeachment in Parliament and the Restoration of Independent Judiciary through Long March led by Nawaz Sharif.

Although PTI has focused all energies in constituencies against only PMLN strongholds, the current debates are focused on the battle of Lahore, which make some people wonder if Imran Khan has given up from rest of Pakistan with major cities like Karachi, Multan, Quetta, Sukkur, Abbottabad and all other rural areas against PPP, PMLQ, MQM, JUI-F and ANP?

Based on recent results of Sahiwal and several analysis by political experts, PTI seems to be on weak ground outside urban areas of Punjab and their chances in urban cities like Lahore are also debatable, however I want to highlight another important aspect.

What if Imran Khan sweeps Lahore and some other urban areas and grabs around 16 seats of National Assembly? (all 11 urban seats of Lahore, 3 from Faisalabad, 1 from Gujranwala, 1 from Islamabad). What will be the next for Imran Khan?

Lets take a rough scenario based on current popularity, where PMLN grabs largest number of around 50% national seats, followed by PPP/PMLQ alliance, MQM and rest by PTI, ANP and other nationalists parties.

Now immediately after elections, what will be the strategy of PTI?

Will PTI join the coalition of PPP, PMLQ, MQM and ANP to keep PMLN from forming a simple majority? Or will PTI become part of joint opposition of PPP, PMLQ, MQM etc?

The most likely scenario will be none of these, but instead it will be closer to what PMLQ did in Balochistan and Punjab in 2008. The majority of members of PMLQ in these provincial assemblies revolted against their leadership and either merged into PPP or formed a forward block that is effectively supporting PMLN.

The most solid reason of the same happening after elections in PTI, is based on the fact that non-ideological and recycled politicians has been selected by Imran Khan against genuine PTI workers for the constituency positions.

Lets take an example of PTI’s Senior Vice President Malik Zaheer Abbas Khokhar, who recently charged up PTI in Lahore by taking massive 19,432 votes in by-elections, despite losing against PMLN.

Malik Zaheer Abbas Khokar was elected on PPP ticket in 2002 elections. Immediately after elections and before the oath of Prime Minister, Zaheer changed his loyalty and joined the newly formed PPP-Patriot group that made alliance PMLQ and MQM to support Musharraf. The entire PPP-Patriot, with members like Faisal Saleh Hayat, Raza Hyat Hiraj and Sherafghan Niazi later merged into PMLQ. Malik Zaheer recently joined PTI.

Now please tell me a single reason why politicians like Malik Zaheer would not revolt against Imran Khan if he decided to sit on opposition benches?

On top of this, lets say that election results prove that a few seats of PMLN were indeed won by PPP through some votes of PTI, then what will be the morale of Imran’s supporters? In worst case scenario and as scientifically explained by many analysts, PTI members may help Zardari grab just enough seats to help him form another government for 5 years in the center.