The article ‘A minority government’ by Cyril Almeida was published in DAWN on Dec 3, 2017. It presents an awful, awful analysis of what the coming elections hold for PMLN. It is a prime example of what happens when a journalist tries to sell his wishes as facts and presents distorted facts to support his wishes. With dozens of biased journalists churning out fabricated news and wishful analysis on a daily basis, I normally don’t bother commenting on the garbage they produce. Mr. Almeida however successfully passes himself off as an unbiased, principled journalist and an intellectual. I therefore felt it was necessary to respond to this.
Mr. Almeida starts out by telling us that “The parliamentary maths has already swung against the PML-N. The census created two options: increase the size of parliament or rearrange the provinces’ shares.” This is a mindless assertion. As a result of the census, the provinces’ shares had to be rearranged whether or not the size of the parliament was increased. This was not an option but a constitutional requirement. The fact that political parties decided not to increase the size of the parliament is in no way more detrimental to PMLNs chances than if the number of constituencies had been increased. In a bigger parliament Punjab may have been able to retain all its existing constituencies but other provinces would see further addition to their seats.
Mr. Almeida then proceeds to assert that PMLN will need 137 seats from Punjab alone to form a majority government. This is a brainless assertion on so many different levels. Level 1: The national assembly has 272 seats on which direct elections are held. Fifty percent of 272 is 136 not 137 but hey what’s a seat when you are out to prove a point. Level 2: PMLN currently has only 131 seats from Punjab and still commands a comfortable majority in the national assembly but sssshhhh lets not tell our readers what they don’t need to know. Level 3: PMLN currently holds 16 national assembly seats from outside Punjab which should have been subtracted from what it needs to win from Punjab but let’s not burden our readers with that. Level 4: Despite admitting that “12 FATA MNAs and the 14 Balochistan MNAs usually line up with whoever is in power,” Mr. Almeida proceeds to ignore this inconvenient fact in his calculations. Level 5: Candidates winning independently invariably choose to join the largest party in the parliament but let’s not get into that. Level 6: Just two of PMLNs strongest allies in the current parliament, JUI-F and PKMAP, hold 11 seats but let’s not overly complicate our simplistic analysis.
Still not happy with the numbers, Mr. Almeida brings back, a myth that was buried in 2013 general elections; That PMLN is vulnerable in south Punjab. Despite a strong media campaign, PPP and PTI failed to make a dent in PMLN’s hold on south Punjab. Not much has changed since then other than a renewed focus on preferential development in southern Punjab by the Punjab government. All this fudging leads Mr. Almeida to his preset conclusion that there’s no way PMLN can win a simple majority in the next parliament.
He then proceeds to introduce us to the absurd concept of a “minority government” in the national assembly. Ignoring parliamentary history, current PMLN government composition and most of all common sense, he asserts that PMLN would try to form a minority government in the post election parliament instead of a coalition. Why would PMLN go for this insanity is for him to know and you to not find out.
The last and indeed the worst of his assertions is that Nawaz Sharif will be to blame for the formation of this “minority government” because he decided to keep “plodding” on. Is he seriously suggesting that any party that is unsure of forming a majority government should not bother contesting elections?? INSANE!