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As we approach the general elections, it is clear that predicting outcomes has become more challenging than ever before. In the ever-evolving landscape of constituency dynamics, the complexities surrounding seat adjustments and the uncertainty surrounding the fate of polls have created a sense of confusion.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) unending troubles and the preference for better candidates over loyalists by political parties have further added to this uncertainty. As a result, it seems that no one can confidently predict who will emerge victorious on polling day.

Amidst this mix, independent candidates – often referred to as otherwise electables – have gained immense significance.

The upcoming election in Pakistan is poised to witness a significant increase in the number of independent candidates winning seats. One key factor contributing to this phenomenon is PTI’s loss of electoral symbol. As a result, many of these candidates are now running as independents.

Notably, all political parties are closely monitoring these potential winners. The Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan (PPP) Muslim League (N), in particular, are actively seeking to attract PTI voters and candidates who have chosen to run as independents.

Additionally, the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) has shown its willingness to welcome PTI supporters who emerge victorious, claiming they share a common vision. After all, parties would want independent candidates who have proven their electoral prowess and appeal to join their ranks.

In this mix of political maneuvering, it is worth noting that influential institutions may also have their interests at play. They may prefer independent candidates to align with parties where they believe their interests are better protected.

Furthermore, there is a notable presence of disgruntled electables who were unable to secure electoral tickets from their respective parties. These individuals, running as independents, are determined to emerge victorious by rallying support from voters and capitalizing on their local influence.

What are the goals of independent candidates?

In the realm of politics, independents often find themselves navigating a complex landscape where alliances and support can make or break their chances of success.

Regardless of which party may quietly support them, independents ultimately stand on their own.

However, in their strategic calculations, they may see an opportunity to revive their political careers by winning the upcoming election on February 8 and subsequently joining a party that can offer them a portfolio.

The reality is that no independent candidate wants to win a poll only to sit idly at home. Instead, they seek opportunities for growth and impact within the political arena.

This essentially means that independents, regardless of whether they belong to PTI or other parties, will likely be eyeing the chance to align themselves with a winning party or alliance.

If even between 10-15% of the seats in the national assembly are won by independent candidates, that would significantly change the contest for prime minister.

Furthermore, this may be used as leverage by certain parties against others or as a means of pressuring some to give up political ground to others.

Come election day, independents are expected to play a significant role in this complex process and will be the leaders that political parties have the ultimate interest in wooing.

The article does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Business Recorder or its owners

Umair Jamal

The writer is Head of the Political Desk at Business Recorder (Digital)

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