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Monday, April 15, 2024

Spin Doctor with the Strange Bedfellows

Significant challenges are ahead for Pakistan’s people, not the upcoming government. The candidates backed by invisible hands in Pakistan’s 2024 General elections were to make a government they would keep enjoying until unseated.

In all circumstances, we, the people of Pakistan, will face challenges in electricity shortages, energy crises, inflation, unemployment, the absence of the rule of law, transparency, merit, and accountability. The perks and privileges of the bureaucrats are already in the pipeline. The caretaker government in Punjab distributed the cars among the top elite of the provincial administration without estimating the consequences for the upcoming government. The nation with minimum resources is trying to sustain the sustainable development of its elite. It’s all out of our tax money. But unfortunately, it was spent on the corrupt elite of Pakistan. Keep ranting on social media. It’s all in vain. What benefit did the PTI get from its successful and speedy SM campaign? The winner is the tortoise.

We, as Pakistanis, need to review our preferences. Do we keep living in slavery and fulfilling the needs and demands of the present elite class and their children without depleting the needs and demands of future generations of the same corrupt elite class? Punjab and Sindh have had the same governments for over forty years, but the energy crises, inflation, and unemployment are touching astronomical figures.

Why does Pakistan have an interior minister, because of rewarding punishment to the opponents and depriving people of Pakistan of their fundamental rights? Why does Pakistan have a foreign minister? Because of begging from abroad when the ruling party wants to flourish their businesses abroad, obliging all the government stakeholders. If the earthquakes and other natural calamities jolt Pakistan, it becomes a blessing in disguise for the ruling party to ask for international aid. Have you ever wondered why Pakistan has a finance minister? To put taxes on ordinary people for the security of the elite class. All salaried classes pay taxes, and all elite class has businesses abroad and at home. Inflation hardly affects Pakistan’s civil-military bureaucracy, judiciary, parliamentarians, and business class. Since their children, spouses, and friends are in business, living here or outside the country.

They increase the prices of their products according to the inflation rate in which they deal. Do you know why Pakistan has a law minister? Because it helps the government do all illegal things in a legal way. It tells them how to make illegal deals lawfully. He assists the government in punishing the people who come out to protest when there is no rule of law. In Pakistan, the Judiciary interprets the rule of law whimsically. The judiciary at the top, parliament, the executive, and the military are enjoying the depleted treasury of the Pakistani people.

The general elections in 2024 are a blatant transgression of election laws as all international media declare Pakistani elections as sham general elections. Here are the facts that explain the nature of the general elections 2024 held in Pakistan in the eyes of national and international media.

Mr. Imtiaz Gul, Executive Director of the Centre for Research and Security Studies, Islamabad, believes that in Pakistan’s general elections on 8 February 2024, millions voted against the country’s military establishment, electing the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and the former prime minister Imran Khan, who got nearly 33 million votes, despite convicted as corrupt by the judiciary. The people of Pakistan disregarded the strict tyrannical political activities, including the banning of siding with PTI, systemic impediments the PTI candidates faced, and efforts to relegate the party, secured 101 seats in and almost 85 percent of seats in the KP province, signaling a solid mandate against military participation in Pakistani politics.

Michael McCaul, the US House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, emphasized that all contentions of exploitation or deception must be thoroughly examined, and guilty parties must be held responsible. He further insisted that we, the United States, always welcome the democratic process on the Pakistan side, the rule of law, and human rights in all circumstances, and look forward to the same in Pakistan.

The CNN reporters Sophia Saifi and David Shortell reported and made the headline of their story as, “In shock result, allies of jailed ex-leader Khan win most seats in Pakistan election.” Michael Kugelman, the director of the South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center, talked to CNN. PTI voters came out in multitudes to communicate a message of rebelliousness that they wouldn’t let the military decide the fate of the election that it desperately desired them to lose.

CNBC found it strange how Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharief declared his victory with only 60 odd seats in a troubled election as opponents called it a rigged election.

CBC News declares the PTI loyalists as the surprised winners. While talking to international media, Professor Hasan Askari Rizvi said that the Pakistani voters sent a strong message to Pakistan’s military in support of Imran Khan.

The Guardian and the Observer gave their views on Pakistan’s GE 2024 as Pakistani people rejected the military rule and voted for the victory of democracy. They predicted a revolt in Pakistan in 2024 if any institution tried to ignore the mandate of the PTI. Bloomberg writes the PTI-backed candidates won the seats despite all odds in the GE 2024 in Pakistan. They vehemently explain that the Pakistani 129 million registered voters have voted against the status quo of the Sharifs and Bhutto families in Pakistan.

The Independent writes that the GE 2024 in Pakistan lost their credibility due to the internet ban throughout Pakistan and delayed results due to the sluggish vote count. It further claimed that the accusations regarding the freedom and fairness of elections are marred owing to the open involvement of Pakistan’s powerful military in the election process. Sky News calls Pakistan’s GE 2024 a source of political instability after the victory of the PTI, calling it an election upset. Time Magazine claims that “Pakistan’s military used every trick to sideline Imran Khan—and failed.” France 24 declared Pakistan’s GE-2024 as against the military.

The editor-in-chief of the Print, Shekhar Gupta, emphatically described the shallowness of the general elections in Pakistan and observed the elections in Pakistan closely. He analyzed the rigging in Pakistan’s GE-2024 before and after the elections. He further claims that the general elections in Pakistan were full of irregularities, and there were attempts to defeat the PTI-backed candidates openly. Despite all the irregularities, he reported that the PTI gathered most of the National Assembly seats.

The New York Times headline was, “Shocking opposition victory throws Pakistan into chaos. It narrates that the success of the PTI overturned the 76-year-old military authority that used to keep puppets in front, which was defeated at the hands of Imran Khan.
On February 9, Reuters described that the U.S., U.K., and the EU showed their concerns about Pakistan’s free and fair general elections and called for a just inquiry into the alleged irregularities. “This election was, among other things, a referendum on the military’s dominant role in Pakistani politics.”

“The country’s real power-wielder, however, was not on the ballot paper, and Pakistanis were never given a symbol or say on the issue. The 2024 general election was dubbed the most rigged in Pakistan’s history, with wags on social media calling it the ‘generals’ election,’ referring to the all-powerful military in the nuclear-armed South Asian nation.”
It is a time to introspect for the Pakistani military establishment. The people of Pakistan have clearly uttered that there is no more selection in Pakistan, but only elected candidates would be respected; otherwise, the candidates with a stolen mandate would face the wrath of the people on roads and streets. Financial Times fervently writes that the PTI-backed candidates’ victory is surprising in Pakistani general elections.

The VOA narrates that the people’s anger was mainly pointed to the uniformed men who used to manipulate the electoral process in Pakistan. The Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) openly said that election officials failed to provide the results on time.

The Way Forward
In light of the discussion above, we can say that the upcoming government will enjoy its perks and privileges without considering the people’s needs and demands because it has stolen the mandate of the majority party PTI, which is nowhere. It means Professor Hassan Askari rightly mentioned that although people have shown defiance in the GE 2024 against the military establishment yet, it keeps intervening in Pakistani politics.

Pakistan is just 76, evolving positively and heading towards a participant state instead of a majoritarian regime. It has rejected the hybrid regime formula in Pakistan. Any upcoming government without the party of majority mandate would have no legitimacy and authority. The Pakistani people are going to face the same political and economic instability they are facing for the last 76 years. Spin doctor is striving hard to explain the qualities of his strange bedfellows, but the masses of Pakistan are unable to accept them in any way.

Rana Eijaz Ahmad
Rana Eijaz Ahmad
Rana Eijaz Ahmad
The author is a TTS Professor in the Department of the Political Science University of the Punjab Lahore.
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