Nawaz Sharif was in a mess for sure. At one side he was being pressurized by some to boycott the elections, whereas on the other hand ground realities suggested something else. One cannot doubt the earnest and somewhat naive intentions of a person like Imran Khan, who is a staunch supporter of boycott, but then you cannot really trust an expedient like Qazi Hussain Ahmad. Achakzai is neither in 3 nor in 13.
In Pakistan, external factors can never be ruled out, but this decision by PML-N to not to boycott seems to be more influenced by the internal elements. The thing is that large majority of Pakistanis, who lives in villages and towns, and is mostly illiterate doesn’t give a damn to the free media, free judiciary and free and fair elections. For them, everything is same, and they are ready to enjoy the thrill and excitement of the elections. They want fun, and they want another chance to enjoy free meals and free drinks, and they want another opportunity to sell their votes.
Nawaz Sharif, as a veteran politician knows that. He knows that standing out of the Election crowd means ouster for a long time, and for a career politician like him, that doesn’t suit really to his party, who has already been out of political mainstream for quite a long time now, and especially for the party of Nawaz Sharif, it would be curtains for another five or so years.
Participation of PML-N and PPP in the elections is death news for PML-Q. I can already hear the ‘lotas’ swinging, wringing and somersaulting already. You can almost hear their pleading, imploring, begging, and praying if you listen carefully. It’s also not very sweet news for the likes of MQM and JUI-F, the religious party of Fazlur Rehman. It would also be shocking for General (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf, who was expecting a free run in the upcoming election in the expected boycott of election by his archrivals.
For Nawaz Sharif boycotting the elections was like cashing in on the expired greenback of virtue of necessity. With PPP and PML-N taking part in the elections, there is little impact Imran would make upon the elections, but his stature will grow more, and perhaps that is what he is after right now, as there is no chance his party is going to make big time in near future.
It’s a do or die for Nawaz Sharif. If he goes in election, and win a considerable volume, and then he presses for the free judiciary, free media and restoration of constitution, only then he could dispel the illusions that he sacrificed his lasting stand. Otherwise he will be considered in league with the Kursi-mongers.