Pakistan’s Rigged Elections May Bring Military-aligned Government

By A Correspondent
Pakistan Tehrik e Insaf party of former prime minister Imran Khan stunned the country’s generals by winning elections despite massive rigging. (Photo via video stream)
Five days following the general election in Pakistan, both the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have unveiled strategies to establish governmental control. The PTI is aligning with religious factions, while the PPP is forming a coalition with its rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN). The country could see a repeat performance of the PDM government that was cobbled togather allegedly by the military after Khan’s ouster through a controversial no confidence motion in 2022.

Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was especially brought back before the elections for a possible electoral sweep, failed miserably at the ballot on February 8. Sharif surprised his supporters on Feb 13 when he announced that he will no longer seek to become prime minister. Instead his younger brother and also a former prime minister Shahbaz Sharif will run for the prime minister’s slot.

The PPP and PML-N are being considered the political face of the country’s powerful military which was allegedly found involved in massive electoral rigging, fraud, forced disappearances and inciting and leading violent attacks on Pakistanis democratic rights. Many Western governments, the United States included, have expressed concern over the electoral exercise, have made weak calls for investigation and expressed willingness to work with the new government.

PTI’s Coalition Endeavors:

The PTI leadership announced on Tuesday (February 13) its intention for independent candidates to strive for federal and Punjab provincial governance through partnerships with the minority party Majlis-e-Wahdat-Muslimeen (MWM) and the religious party Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

PTI chief and former prime minister Imran Khan announced that Ali Amin Gandapur, Khan’s firebrand confidant from southern KP’s Dera Ismail Khan city, as the next chief minister of the KP province. PTI, however, is expected to sit on opposition benches until election tribunals decide its election fraud petitions.

Election Results and Mandate:

Thursday’s election outcome resulted in a divided and stolen mandate, which ensured no single party securing a majority in the National Assembly. Though PTI-backed independent candidates clinched the highest number of seats, they must still align with political parties or coalitions to form a government.

Allegations of Electoral Interference:

The PTI alleges electoral irregularities, contending that their expected majority of 180 seats was compromised. Barrister Gohar Ali Khan, interim PTI chief, pledged to present evidence supporting their claims.

PTI’s Stance on Coalition Partners:

PTI, led by former Prime Minister Imran Khan, persists in refusing to engage with PPP, PMLN, or MQM, branding them as “corrupt” entities. This stance influences their coalition-building strategy.

PPP-PMLN Coalition Dynamics:

Shortly after PTI’s announcement, PPP and PMLN declared intentions to form a new coalition. While leadership roles remain undisclosed, PMLN’s Marriyum Aurangzeb hinted at Shehbaz Sharif’s nomination for prime minister.

PPP’s Political Calculations:

PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari expressed support for PMLN’s prime ministerial candidate, opting out of governmental roles to focus on political stability and strengthening the party’s presence in Punjab.

Calculations of the key political players aside, a hybrid regime is unlikely to bring political stability to the South Asian nation which is a bad news for the generals and the country’s tanked economy.

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