A peaceful Ashoura would help bring the a slight semblance of peace and sanity to the country. Though it was marred by the Peshawar suicide attack which killed 11 people, but due to the very strict and impressive security arrangements, 9th and 10th the most sensitive days went by peacefully.
Now as the Ashoura has passed, and the elections of February are looming large, there is every chance that the election campaign would gain momentum, and once again things will start electrifying. Each and every player in these elections will strive hard to hurtle ahead.
The key players right now at the scene are Nawaz Sharif of PML-N, Asif Ali Zardari of PPP, Altaf Hussain of MQM, Chaudhury Shujaat Hussain of PML-Q, and Maulana Fazlur Rahman of Jamiat-ul-Ulema Islam (JUI) Pakistan. There are some other small time players like in NWFP the Pashtun breakaway faction of PPP led by Aftab Sherpao, who is largely a B-team of PML-Q, and then there is ANP (which is also Pashtun) in NWFP, some nationalist parties in Balochistan and Sindh. There are handful of tiny giants like Qazi Hussain Ahmad of Jamat-e-Islami and Imran Khan of Tehrik-e-Insaf.
Electorally speaking, the most powerful player on the scene right now is Pakistan People’s Party. It has got a profound support in the rural and urban areas of Sindh which has been heavily tilted in its favour after the horrendous assassination of twice Prime Minister of Pakistan and their leader Benazir Bhutto last year. Though Asif Ali Zardari doesn’t enjoy a much celebrated support in its own party and elsewhere, he has got enough support due to his late wife for the party.
PPP has become more tenacious as it has got the facilitations by PML-N of Nawaz Sharif against the PML-Q in Punjab and in NWFP. PPP also enjoys a very considerable support in the Seriaki belt of Southern Punjab. Pakistani Muslim League Nawaz is solid in central and Northern Punjab, whereas PML-Q is by and large counting on the rigging and overt/covert support from the district governments.
As the days are passing its becoming more and more hard for PML-Q to stick to their plans, and there is a whiff of change in the air.