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regular-article-logo Sunday, 14 April 2024

More drama: Editorial on the uncertainty following the conclusion of Pakistan elections

Dubious elections continue to be a part and parcel of Pakistan’s electoral history even though the principal outcomes — instability and a weakened democracy — have serious political and economic consequences

The Editorial Board Published 21.02.24, 07:42 AM
The Pakistan national flag

The Pakistan national flag File Photo

It has been days since the elections concluded in Pakistan. But there is seemingly no end to the attendant drama and uncertainty. For starters, the talks to reach a power-sharing formula in a new coalition government featuring the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan Peoples Party have been tortuously long-drawn. The wrangling for the power pie and, as always, the shadowy presence of the army must have added more hours to an already time-consuming presence. The nation’s nerves were then wracked further by the allegation of the former Commissioner of Rawalpindi that as many as 13 candidates from that city were declared winners by force and that the Chief Election Commissioner and the Chief Justice were involved in this sleight of hand; incidentally, Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission has also expressed its reservations about the credibility of the electoral outcome. Predictably, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf — its candidates fought as independents and won a large number of seats — has demanded the ouster of both incumbents. Even though the Election Commission has constituted a committee to investigate the alleged transgression, the sanctity of the outcome of February 8 elections would continue to be questioned.

Dubious elections continue to be a part and parcel of Pakistan’s electoral history even though the principal outcomes — instability and a weakened democracy — have serious political and economic consequences. The international community — India and China are among the countries that are affected — finds it difficult to deal with a government perpetually on crutches. There is speculation that the current spell of uncertainty may even adversely affect Pakistan’s impending deal with the International Monetary Fund. The Economist Intelligence Unit has recently downgraded Pakistan to an “authoritarian regime”. But the tragedy is that Pakistan’s citizens are not compli­cit in this erosion of democracy. Even in this election, the citizens’ voice rang loud and there were institutional attempts to distort their verdict. De­mocracy’s devouring in Pakistan has been aid­ed and abetted by institutions — not only by the army but also the judiciary and the Election Commission on this occasion, if the latest allegations have any merit. This should make other functioning democracies realise that their weakening — even implosion — can take place from within.

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