The February 8th, 2024 Pakistani elections, while seemingly peaceful, were marred by international concerns regarding their fairness. These concerns stemmed from a web of factors, some deeply entrenched in Pakistan’s political history.
“If one were to have free and fair elections, Imran Khan would win by an absolute landslide,” – FT
Military’s Shadow: The specter of military influence loomed large. While formally non-partisan, the military’s historical involvement in politics, coupled with its close ties to certain political parties, raised questions about its neutrality.
This was further fueled by the disqualification of candidates perceived to be critical of the military.
Uneven Playing Field: The Pakistani government and Election Commission face accusations of enabling an uneven playing field through military influence, potentially swaying media coverage, disqualifying key opposition figures, and lack of transparency in vote counting.
Bloomberg: “Pakistan’s youth, big backers of Khan, are “disillusioned about the electoral system,”
These actions raise concerns about their commitment to truly free and fair elections.
Blocked Voices: The disqualification of several high-profile candidates, including former Prime Minister Imran Khan, on seemingly technical grounds, further eroded trust in the electoral process.
This disenfranchisement of certain voices fueled accusations of a system skewed towards specific parties.
Fearful Atmosphere: Reports of intimidation and violence against voters and journalists, particularly in rural areas, created an atmosphere of fear and deterred some from exercising their democratic rights.
This suppression of dissent further cast a shadow on the legitimacy of the elections.
Opaque Counting: Concerns about potential vote manipulation and counting irregularities arose, due to various reasons, including the lack of independent observers present during the counting process.
This lack of transparency fueled doubts about the accuracy of the final results.
Global Calls for Scrutiny: The international community, including the European Union, the United States, and the United Nations, expressed concerns about these issues and called for an independent investigation into the electoral process.
These calls highlighted the need to address the underlying issues to ensure future elections are perceived as fair and inclusive.
The concerns surrounding the 2024 Pakistani elections go beyond mere irregularities. They point to deeper structural issues within the political system, including the role of the military, media bias, and the lack of transparency.
Addressing these issues is crucial for ensuring future elections are truly free, fair, and representative of the will of the Pakistani people.