The February 8 election will undoubtedly be remembered as a pivotal moment in Pakistan’s parliamentary history, marked by intense controversy surrounding the exclusion of a specific political party from the entire electoral process. The unfolding events have raised serious questions about the fairness and transparency of the electoral procedures.
Initially, the key leadership of the PTI found themselves behind bars, facing allegations of involvement in the May 9 incidents. Subsequently, the party faced another setback when it was stripped of its election symbol, the ‘bat.’ As if that wasn’t enough, numerous winning candidates from the party were purportedly denied their rightfully earned seats, adding fuel to the already heated situation.
The international community, too, expressed apprehensions about the legitimacy of the election process. The United States, in particular, promptly voiced its concerns, emphasizing the need for a thorough investigation into the allegations of fraud. This global response underscores the significance of ensuring a fair and just electoral process that upholds democratic principles.
The Australian government has conveyed its concerns regarding the conduct of the 2024 elections, expressing regret over the limitations imposed on the Pakistani people in their electoral choices. The restriction on certain political parties from participating in the elections is viewed as a setback to the democratic process.
‘Australia remains steadfast in its support for a democratic, stable, and prosperous Pakistan, emphasizing the importance of upholding commitments to democratic principles. These principles encompass not only the electoral process but also extend to fundamental rights such as human rights, media freedoms, freedom of expression, and freedom of association’.
The European Union and the Commonwealth states have both released statements that share a striking resemblance. The Commonwealth observers’ mission, during their visit to Pakistan, acknowledged certain irregularities in the elections, albeit in a discreet manner during their media interaction. Notably, an interesting comment arose from a high-ranking diplomat stationed in Islamabad, questioning the legitimacy of the Commonwealth observation mission chief, given the presence of the current Interior Minister of the Pakistani government seated beside him during the mission’s proceedings. This observation raises intriguing questions about the perceived objectivity and independence of the mission in the context of the political dynamics at play.
The powers who wanted to keep PTI out, PML N down and the PPP in seem to have successfully completed their task. Convicting Imran Khan in consecutive cases appears to be a strategic move in this game plan, intended to incite PTI supporters and drive them to vote in large numbers. This increased voter turnout effectively curtailed PML N’s chances of securing a simple majority, and the PPP was unable to attain a majority as well. As per reports, PTI’s majority was allegedly converted into a minority on many seats. Consequently, the ultimate outcome is that the influential forces have established a strategic advantage, positioning themselves as key players in determining the formation and sustainability of any government without their consent.
Regardless, it appears highly likely that the government formed through these negotiations and maneuvers may face significant challenges in maintaining its stability over an extended period. The inherent fragility of the current administration could potentially lead to the initiation of snap elections or even an internal power shift. In the context of Pakistan, the tenure of an elected government is typically expected to last a maximum of two to two and a half years, contingent on the dynamics between civilian authorities and the military.