In mid-January, prominent Sufi cleric Mohammed Tahir-ul-Qadri led a Long March from Lahore to Islamabad demanding electoral reforms, the quick dissolution of the National Assembly, dismissal of the government and discharge of the elections commission.
Although the government refused the idea it should arrange its own dismissal as well as that of the National Assembly, it did agree that the men, strong of over 40,000 supporters and loyalists was indeed a political force to be reckoned with in Pakistan. Qadri became another stakeholder in Pakistan's political life, a new decision-maker.
Almost immediately, negotiations began in between the ruling party and Tahirul Qadri, which subsequently led to the cleric to recall the march and agree to a truce. An alliance was signed with the Prime Minister and Qadri on principles.
According to the agreement the ruling party agreed it will dissolve the current 13th National Assembly before March 16, 2013.
By which date, the National Assembly would have completed its constitutional tenure - five years.
The agreement insisted that Parliamentary Elections must be held within 90 days of the Parliament’s dissolution.
During the transition period an entire will be dedicated to the study of candidates under
articles 62 and 63 of the Constitution to prevent morally and/or financially corrupt figures to take part in the elections or sully the democratic process.
With mounting pressure from political factions to decide on an electoral calendar, the government is studying its options.
Almost of the opposition factions gathered at Nawaz Sharif’s residence in Lahore last week to discuss ways in which they could exert pressure on the government to announce a final date on the elections and move things along faster.
They made it clear they would resist any attempt to prevent or delay the elections.
Under the procedure of interim setup adopted in recent constitutional amendments, the caretaker government should be formed through consultation between the ruling party and opposition leader at the National Assembly.
According to legal experts, the government can consult with Tahirul Qadri on its own behalf but absolutely needs the approval of opposition leaders to name the caretaker Prime Minister.
In light of the agreement between the government and Qadri, there would be further negotiation on the issue of election’s commission in coming days.
Qadri so far it appears, failed to compel the government into giving up but proved himself as new emerging partner in Pakistan political game.
With the country provinces fast catching up with Pakistan's election fever, politicians are now hard at work throughout the territories, trying to gather as many supporters to their cause as they possibly can.
Despite rumors of delays, major political parties including -- Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP), Pakistan Muslim League factions (PML N & Q), Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP), Jamiat Ulama Islam (JUI) and Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) -- are firmly determined to make their voices heard at the upcoming elections.
Recent meetings of the ruling alliance and opposition parties held in Islamabad and Lahore show that both factions are getting into the electoral spirit.
The major party of the ruling coalition, Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) is trying to emerge again as the single largest party and form its own coalition government.
Pakistan Muslim League (N) is also trying to set up an alliance with other big and small groups with similar political standpoints as to win maximum seats at the National Assembly - required for the formation of a federal government in Islamabad -
Pakistan Muslim League (N) is focusing on central and eastern Punjab and making alliance with small nationalist groups in Sindh, Baluchistan and Khyber pakhtunkhwa.
Although, the Nawaz’s group was the single largest party of the central and eastern Punjab so far it is now competing with Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) for the first time, particularly in urban areas.
Instead of the competing on the ground, the PPP is putting its spotlight on possible alliances with small groups and winning candidates. Because of that experts believe the PPP is most likely to form the next coalition government, with its already smaller allied parties -- PML (Q), MQM and ANP --