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The general elections scheduled for 11th May this year are likely to bring many surprises for Pakistanis as well as its friends and foes. The most important being, for the first time in the history of Pakistan the elected assemblies completed their tenure. Though, it may be said that the previous assembles also completed their term but critics are shy to admit that because of General Pervez Musharraf was the president. The fact remains that despite being a retired general he was elected by the members of assemblies and senate.
It is also a surprise for the people of Pakistan in general and people of Balochistan that many of the Baloch leaders, living under self-exile or in their hideouts have filed their nomination papers. They have admitted that boycotting the elections was a mistake, which they don't wish to repeat. However, they are apprehensive of law and order situation, which may turn precarious before the election process is completed. They have also expressed fears of candidates coming under attack.
If these apprehensions are viewed in the light of demandss being made by certain quarters that term of caretaker government should be extended to three years to ensure accountability of those who have been accused of corruption. Though, one hates to say this but also can't resist that if accountability process starts it may never be completed in another decade. This also reminds the statement of General Ziaul Haq who made a promise to hold election within 90 days but his term ended only when his aircraft was blown up.
The third pleasant surprise is that this time Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) seems a little stringent in scrutiny of nomination papers. The parameters pronounced are likely to weed out undesirable candidates. Keep this in mind some of the quarters are adamant at making the ECP and its chief controversial. However, if most of the political parties have consensuses on the autonomy of the ECP and also approve the parameters set to make a candidate eligible to contest election much better outcome can be expected.
The forth surprise is that in the forthcoming election all the political parties intend to exploit 'youth power'. This is evident in almost all the shows being organized by the political parties. While Sharif brothers are promoting their offspring, sudden departure of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has given rumormongers an opportunity to spread possible refit between the father and the son.
The fifth surprise may come in the form of some 'unnatural' alliances among the political parties. Though, PML-N has been trying to win over hearts of people living in Sindh, one probability remains remote, any alliance between PML-N and MQM, especially if with MQM if it decides to support Pervez Musharraf.
However, some of the critics are of the view that Mian Nawaz Sharif has been advised by his local and foreign friends not to take a head-on with Pervez Musharraf and Imran Khan. The rumors seem to carry some weight because of change of tone of Mian Sahib towards these two opponents.
Though, the US administration continues to say it is not interested in the outcome of election, it is a pill difficult to swallow. The outcome is very important because of the ongoing withdrawal of US-led Nato troops from Afghanistan via Pakistan. Some of the cynics say that almost all the political leaders have assured the sole surviving super power of their fullest support to the US foreign policy.