Election campaign and development work

A divisional bench of Peshawar High Court (PHC) has stopped all the ongoing developmental works in the province till general elections over and ordered respondents for submission of reply in this regard. The court declared that the caretaker government has jurisdiction over day-to-day matters as well as ensuring free and fair elections, so why are interim leaders in the centre as well as province so interested in development work despite the fact that the ECP has announced the nationwide polls in the country.

The announcement of the polls schedule heated up the election activities and lobbying by the civic groups to garner support from the masses through corner meetings, political rallies and door to door campaigns. Historically, the development work plays an important role in shaping election results in Pakistan, as it does in many other countries in the world. The initiation of development work, such as improvements in infrastructure, healthcare, education, and economic opportunities, significantly influence the voters, owing to the positive impacts of these activities on their lives and livelihood.

These initiatives improve public perception about the performance of political parties or candidates. With regards to Pakistan’s peculiar politico-social environment, voters often assess the performance of political parties or candidates based on the development work undertaken in their constituencies. Hence, Political parties, candidates, and policymakers often focus on development as a means to garner support and address the needs of the population, particularly during/ahead of election campaigns to give an instant boost to their popularity/ public approval, while this phenomenon significantly influences electoral outcomes.

Interestingly, the PTI government during its three and a half years rule in the country, held back all development activities to support its budgetary needs/ fiscal spending aiming at launching a nationwide development campaign during the last one and half years to put a strong impact on people’s lives and seize the next polls. The PTI leaders failed to implement their strategy due to an early ouster from the power. The PDM coalition government massively invested in development projects despite severe economic challenges to attract public support in the upcoming elections. Although the court has stopped the development works in the province, yet the outcome of the upcoming election will prove the worth/impact of this political legacy in the days to come.