GlobalWhy is Punjab province important in Pak elections, why the route to...

Why is Punjab province important in Pak elections, why the route to coronation is only through Lahore; What is the political atmosphere in the neighborhood?

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General elections are to be held in Pakistan, the neighboring country with a population of 24 crores, on 8 February. People will vote here for the fourth consecutive time but before that, the Muslim majority country is going through an unprecedented phase, where anger, despair and a new ray of hope is visible. It is surprising for this country that even after 76 years of independence, not a single Prime Minister has completed the full five-year tenure. There has often been military rule there and even in the case of restoration of democracy, military rule has dominated. Pakistan was under military rule from 1956 to 1971, from 1977 to 1988, and again from 1999 to 2008.

This time the voting to be held on February 8 is also taking place under the shadow of alleged military intervention. This time’s election is also important because one former Prime Minister is behind bars, while the other has come out of self-exile and is contesting the elections to become the Prime Minister for the fourth time. Not only this, the criminal conviction of this former Prime Minister i.e. Nawaz Sharif has been removed just before the elections.

Why is Punjab province important?
There are a total of 342 seats in the National Assembly, the lower house of the Parliament of Pakistan. Of these, 272 MPs are elected from four states, while 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 seats for religious minorities. Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan and Khair Pakhtunkhwa are the four provinces of Pakistan. Among these, Punjab is called the gateway to power because it has the maximum number of 141 seats in the National Assembly. In the 2018 elections, Imran Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had won a total of 67 seats from here and formed the government in Islamabad.

On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif’s party PML-N had got a total of 64 seats here in 2018. This time Imran Khan’s party is facing crisis in entire Pakistan including Punjab. Many of their leaders are contesting the elections as independents while many senior leaders of PTI including Imran Khan are in jail. Due to these reasons, the leaders of Nawaz Sharif’s party are leading in the political arena. Nawaz Sharif himself is contesting from National Assembly seat-130 of Lahore. Therefore PMLN seems to be dominant here.

It is believed that in Pakistan, the party which has more influence in Punjab province and which wins more seats, forms the government at the Centre. The situation of Bilawal Bhutto’s party PPP is not good in Punjab. However, he is contesting from a seat in Punjab.

What is the situation in other provinces?
The second important province is Sindh, where there are a total of 61 seats. It is considered the stronghold of PPP. There is still a PPP provincial government here. PML-N is also trying to strengthen its position here. Nawaz Sharif’s party is contesting the elections here in alliance with Muttahida Qaumi Movement. Apart from these, there are 45 National Assembly seats in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 16 seats in Balochistan.

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