“The main problem is that for a boycott to be effective, you must first persuade thousands – maybe even millions of others – to go along, which is a lot of work and usually not successful.” L. Neil Smith
Historically, no political party in Pakistan has been successful in yielding fruit as a result of the election boycott. As a matter of fact, it always proved to be disastrous and suicidal as competitors filled the space fittingly. Perhaps, this is why, not long after the announcement of ‘possible election boycott’, Muslim League seems to be divided between MPLN and PMLS.
PMLN camp is pretty clear about the destination; Judicial relief for Maryam and Nawaz Sharif in NAB cases and ultimate control of Maryam Nawaz on his paternal party. As of today, the electoral wave does not look to be in a mood to accord anything substantial to Nawaz Sharif family, except a massive defeat. Adding insult to the injury, recent ‘deal offer’ made by Shahbaz Sharif has left PMLN camp in an anxiety. The camp has a strong feeling that a worthy opposition leader Shahbaz Sharif, having good terms with the establishment, can knock out Maryam Nawaz in party politics in coming years. So the best strategy to counter this threat is to keep Shahbaz Sharif out of parliament by election-boycott.
PMLS camp has a different case to present though. They perceive themselves as the ‘real option’ for masses as well as the establishment in future, once the dust settles down. This requires them to be present in parliament as a major stakeholder. Considering the dynamics of local politics, local influential and political birds can never keep themselves out of the game. This is where PMLN may lose the ground if they go for the boycott. Possibly, most of the PMLN candidates will contest as independent candidates. After winning their seats, they will either join PTI or will end up in establishing another political party in the footsteps of ‘AAP’. All this mess can have only one result; further deterioration of PMLN-S and this is what disturbs Shahbaz Sharif at the moment.