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The Novel Changes in Pakistan’s Party Politics: Analysis of Causes and Impacts

Transformation in a political system regarding number of parties is a significant phenomenon which creates ample grounds for scholarly discourse. The Pakistani political system witnessed a change in the party politics where it transformed from a two-party system to a three-party system in a relatively short time period.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged on the political scene and after just two elections was able to form a government. Challenging the status quo political forces through organizational mobilization, ideology, counter narrative, and redeeming civil military balance, PTI successfully achieved the systemic transformation in political structure of Pakistan.

The change in a complex political fabric was attempted across various spectrums of party dynamics and electoral mechanics both at the federal and provincial legislatures employing diverse strategies. The challenge at hand is the translation of those mechanics of change into political realities and policy orientations while dealing with structural intricacies, domestic compulsions of economy, and external relations. PTI also lacks experience managing external relations which has implications for both the important stakeholders.

Undergoing political transition dealing with resistance to change from political actors and managing external relations will define the future of political stability and its impact over China—Pakistan relations.

On July 28, , former Pakistani cricketer Mr. The rapid rise of his party since has surprised political observers. In the general election, it won 33 out of the seats, making it the third largest party in the NA. In the general election, PTI won of the contested seats, and the share of votes in the NA increased to The literature produced on political development in Pakistan has different orientations according to the political evolution in the country.

The primary focus has been the institutional rifts between civil and military through respective regimes and constitutional history. In addition, the political evolution is also overshadowed by the challenges of federalism, particularly ethno-linguistic strife in East Pakistan which finds reflection in much of the discourse produced on politics in Pakistan. The evolution of political parties in the nascent democracy of Pakistan was carried away by structural problems which influenced the literature as well.

Jahan : argued that political power is highly localized and fragmented in Pakistan. Political parties, instead of building up their organizations or mass support, generally co-opt locally influential leaders with their own group of supporters.

Hussain : identified that a military bureaucratic oligarchy has influenced the political fabric throughout the history of Pakistan, especially during its formative years.

He investigated how military rulers have used political parties to extend their power. Ziring blamed the political leaders of different political parties for the weakness of the political system of Pakistan. In his view, mostly, the political forces have been focusing electioneering that would limit space for civil society and institutionalization of political party.

Rizvi argued that due to lack of organizational capacity and integration, political parties could not strengthen their institutional strength, leaving space for the military in politics. The Punjab-based civil—military bureaucracy dominated the political fabric, leaving the other regions struggling, agitating, and marginalized. Hussain has given more attention to the political history than party politics and considers the military as the pivotal point in politics of Pakistan.

The literature on politics in Pakistan gives much attention to situational analysis and institutional imbalances, but there is very little emphasis on the transformation into a multi-party system. The article dwells on this fundamental change from a loosely structured two-party system into a multi-party system.

The article attempts to fill the gap in the literature about multi-party system in Pakistan. The subsequent part explains why changes have occurred in the ideology and organizational mobilization ability of the PTI, as well as changes in civil—military relations.

One of the significant aspects has been bringing people from the middle class into leadership positions. Another significant impact is also observed in the foreign policy picture which has not been affected by the political regimes previously, since it was previously controlled by the military Ahmed It stepped into an orderly two-party rotation since PTI developed its voter base in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which was hit by terrorism and bad governance.

Since PTI won the general elections and emerged as a strong party in NA, the party politics of Pakistan has undergone important changes at the federal and provincial levels. The changes correspond to both the political scenario and social structure devoid of upholding democratic traditions.

The new changes have the following characteristics:. From to , the parliamentary democracy in Pakistan has witnessed transition of two regimes peacefully completing their respective constitutional terms. During their respective periods in power, the two parties have made great progress on issues such as political stability, economic growth, diplomatic cooperation, and combating terrorism.

The two-party structure in the political fabric had established itself particularly in the context of their previous respective terms in government. Public opinion had not only accepted the two-party structure, but also had expectations of long-term rotation.

Half a year after the election, General Pervaiz Musharraf handed over power to the elected government. For the first time since the founding of Pakistan, the ruling party held these key powers at the same time. Although the PPP was replaced by the PML-N in the general election, it made history by becoming the first party ever to complete its 5-year term and introduced a landmark 18th constitutional amendment bringing about one of the most dramatic deconcentrations of power in Pakistan Cookman To establish a government, independent candidates joined the PML-N which allowed that party to establish a simple-majority government Tribune The elections marked the first transition in the country from one democratically elected government to another PRI In the general election of May , PTI gained a rapid increase in seats in NA and in the four provincial assemblies, forming a government in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Political parties in Pakistan have always been dominated by influential families and their heads. The status quo political parties of Pakistan have oligarchical system, because they are identified by their founders instead of ideology or policy Khan a , b. For instance, there are core committees and central working committees those not only control the party politics but also give direction to the party Aziz : Since the founding of the country, Pakistan has inherited the institutional legacy of British India, allowing multiple political parties to gain ruling status through competitive elections.

However, at the same time, Pakistan is also in the process of transition from a traditional agrarian country to a modern industrial country. The political parties and party systems that grew up along with the founding of Pakistan were all influenced by the traditional social structure, which means that the traditional factors such as family, social status and religion still perform a substantial role in Pakistani politics.

The party politics of Pakistan is highly personalized. The political system struggles, because personalities and pressure groups are more powerful than the institutions and ideologies Malik : Dynastic politics is just a new face of personalized politics, further deteriorating the parliamentary system Khan a , b.

The PPP is a typical political party dominated by a feudal family having strong influence in the traditional social structure founded in ; the PPP has had five leaders so far, all belonging to the same family. Footnote 2 The leadership of the party remains with the family members of respective parties throughout the history. The Bhutto family is the first generation of politicians from Sindh province, the second most important province after Punjab, who gained influence at the national level.

Estimates vary as to the actual acreage owned by the Bhutto clan. Before the Land Reforms, each major clan head reportedly held around 40,—60, acres of extremely productive land in Larkana, Jacobabad, Thatta, and Sukkur Taseer Nawaz Sharif entered politics during the reign of General Zia-ul-Haq and was elected as chief minister of Punjab in He was re-elected after the end of the Martial Law under the Military Government in With deep political and business foundations in Punjab, Nawaz Sharif has served as Prime Minister of Pakistan from to and from to It is important to mention that his younger brother, Shabaz Sharif, has also remained in power in the province of Punjab.

Shabaz Sharif has a wealth of political resources in Punjab province, because has served as the chief minister of Punjab for three terms, during which time he strengthened his political base. Intricate political and business relations and the entangled interests are intertwined in the competition for provincial seats.

After the general election, not only did the vote bank of the PTI increase in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but it also secured more votes in Punjab and Sindh, which were prominent vote banks of PML-N and PPP, respectively, changing the seats balance in the provincial assemblies. Footnote 3. The province of Punjab has a dominant position in politics of Pakistan.

PPP is dominated by the Bhutto family. The three generations of the Bhutto family have ruled in Sindh and established a major electoral base in Sindh. Sindh is located in the southeastern part of Pakistan and south of the Indian Ocean having a prominent coastal city at Karachi.

The long-term monopoly over provincial seats shaped by the two prominent political parties has been altered by the third party that is PTI resisting the status quo dynamics. The struggle of these three parties at the federal and local level is worth attention because of the election cycle, particularly in Punjab and Karachi. This greater division suggests that the strains facing many of the major parties in the pre-election period did, in fact, have an impact Cookman This section discusses that how PTI managed to create a new space in the political structure of Pakistan which was deeply entrenched by the status quo parties and secure an electoral victory across various political and social dimensions in a relatively short time period.

In addition to the personal charisma of Imran Khan Sandford ; Burki ; Mishra ; Zaidi ; Hadid ; Ghosh , the authors believe that the ideological appeal, the improvement of organizational level, and the establishment of the mitigation of civil—military relations in Pakistan have played an important role in diversifying the political fabric and endorsed new political changes in party politics.

Young voters in Pakistan were targeted through novel means of outreach such as social media and on novel subjects, such as transparency, accountability, and national pride.

The narrative had focused both domestic appeal and an international outlook that influenced voter orientation. This had important impacts on the political system of Pakistan. The participation of people, particularly youth and women, in the political process, expanding the leadership base and extending it to the middle class, anti-status quo politics, and foreign policy orientation are some of the major areas where the impact of novel changes is discussed.

In Pakistan, the ideology of political parties is the main instrument of legitimacy across both political and social spectrum, and it reflects the unanimous beliefs and common understanding of the members of the party. Therefore, the PTI—as the only main political party not in power—was well placed to become a mouthpiece for prevalent grievances.

As a result, in , the PTI waged a smart, ruthless, and technically sophisticated election campaign that delivered it the prime ministership Niaz At the structural level, PTI believes in corruption-free governance to avoid state erosion and, therefore, calls for a responsible and transparent culture to restore public confidence in the government. Imran Khan calls for a model free from the influence of elites and family interest-oriented politics, thus focusing on achieving political stability through reliable democracy, transparency, and responsible leadership.

Previous governments had intentionally stifled accountability institutions to create an environment in which corruption by the ruling elite was concealed rather than aggressively pursued. Instead, these loans flow into the pockets of corrupt political elites through various projects and various names. PTI advocates the reduction of poverty through economic development and guarantees the right to education of women and children.

At the religious level, PTI opposes religious extremism and advocates eradicating the causes of religious extremism from the roots through economic development and social construction. They advocate the focus on addressing the root causes of religious extremism, namely injustice, poverty, unemployment, and illiteracy, and denounce the use of religious dogmas for creating fear and inciting violence.

To get popular support and pursue politico-financial interests, PPP and PML-N have invested in different constituencies creating asymmetries, and have also fostered specific religious and cultural values during the long-term political struggle between the two parties. The two parties have shifted their ideological standpoints about religion and politics in different eras. While the ideology of the PTI advocates inclusiveness, it is highly focused on its pro-people agenda against the clutches of political elites.

As a relatively younger political party with no experience ruling at the federal level, it has taken the status quo parties to task while directly referring to the dynastic political traditions and the clientelistism rooted in the depths of their political history. The ideology of the PTI has a strong appeal to the youth groups in Pakistan. Youth accounts for a large proportion of national population of Pakistan and has made an important contribution in the electoral victory of PTI Khan a , b.

In democracies, voting behavior is generally driven by potential to deliver. However, Pakistan is a country where it is driven by patronage and kinship.

Politics of Pakistan

Transformation in a political system regarding number of parties is a significant phenomenon which creates ample grounds for scholarly discourse. The Pakistani political system witnessed a change in the party politics where it transformed from a two-party system to a three-party system in a relatively short time period. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged on the political scene and after just two elections was able to form a government. Challenging the status quo political forces through organizational mobilization, ideology, counter narrative, and redeeming civil military balance, PTI successfully achieved the systemic transformation in political structure of Pakistan. The change in a complex political fabric was attempted across various spectrums of party dynamics and electoral mechanics both at the federal and provincial legislatures employing diverse strategies. The challenge at hand is the translation of those mechanics of change into political realities and policy orientations while dealing with structural intricacies, domestic compulsions of economy, and external relations. PTI also lacks experience managing external relations which has implications for both the important stakeholders.


Government and Politics in Pakistan. By Mushtaq Ahmad. Karachi: Pakistan Publishing House, x, $ - Volume 19 Issue 3.


The Current Situation in Pakistan

Religion, politics and governance in Pakistan

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The Novel Changes in Pakistan’s Party Politics: Analysis of Causes and Impacts

Pakistan's short history as a country has been very turbulent. Fighting among the provinces--as well as a deep-rooted conflict that led to a nuclear stand-off with India—prevented Pakistan from gaining real stability in the last five decades. It oscillates between military rule and democratically elected governments, between secular policies and financial backing as a "frontline" state during the Cold War and the war against terrorism.

Working Paper. University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK. This report presents the findings of a study of Islam in Pakistan that aimed at understanding and evaluating the relationships between Muslim organizations and activity in the formulation of development policy. The question at the heart of the inquiry is whether religion can play the role of a driver for change in terms of pro-poor policy and practice. The study analyses the nature and direction of the latent force and dynamism of the Islamic establishment, especially in its organizational setting, both in government and in opposition. It shows that the state in Pakistan has typically pursued a policy of exploiting the functional uses of Islam as a source of legitimacy in the absence of, or in combination with, a mass mandate. In so doing, it has played on the turf of Islamic groups by seeking to control the production and the spread of the religious message, co-opting the Ulema and managing religious affairs, ranging from levying Islamic taxes to the management of shrines, policies towards madrasas and a role in sectarian conflict.


Government systems as per their own requirements to protract and prolong their governments. This paper is an attempt to examine political influence on its original.


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The country is a federal parliamentary republic in which provincial governments enjoy a high degree of autonomy and residuary powers. Executive power is vested with the national cabinet which is headed by the prime minister Imran Khan ; , who works coherently along with the bicameral parliament and the judicature. The head of state is the president who is elected by the electoral college for a five-year term. Arif Alvi is currently the president of Pakistan The president was a significant authority until the 18th amendment , passed in , stripped the presidency of its major powers. Since then, Pakistan has been shifted from a Semi-presidential system to a purely parliamentary government.

Pakistan continues to face multiple sources of internal and external conflict. While incidences of domestic terrorism have reduced, in part due to measures taken by the Pakistani state, extremism and intolerance of diversity has grown. There is some recognition by the state that instead of merely kinetic responses holistic counterterrorism policies are needed to counteract this trend. The inability of state institutions to reliably provide peaceful ways to resolve grievances has encouraged groups to seek violence as a legitimate alternative.

Religion, politics and governance in Pakistan

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3 Comments

  1. Filomeno V.

    21.04.2021 at 23:49
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    Economy and Culture in Pakistan pp Cite as.

  2. Dexter R.

    25.04.2021 at 06:20
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    Savak Katrak; Government and Politics in Pakistan and Political Forces in Pakistan –, International Affairs, This content is only available as a PDF.

  3. Vinicio M.

    26.04.2021 at 03:20
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