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Upcoming Pakistan Elections: Is Democracy a farce?

Nitya writes, the upcoming elections will be Pakistan’s second democratic transition of power. If not earth-shattering, it still remains an important issue in Pakistan’s history.

Pakistan witnessed a breakthrough in its political history in 2013, when the first democratic transition of power was successfully accomplished. Former President Asif Ali Zardari, of the Pakistan People’s Party, became the first Prime Minister to complete his tenure in the office as it was relinquished to former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz PML-(N). Now, with the upcoming elections, it will be Pakistan’s second democratic transition of power. If not earth-shattering, it still remains an important issue in Pakistan’s history.

A total of 105 million, 59.2 million males and 46.7 million females are expected to participate in voting for the election of the new government, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).[1] The major parties contesting in the elections are Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, the Pakistan Muslim league-Nawaz and the Pakistan People’s Party, headed by Bilawal Bhutto Zadari, son of former President Zardari.

In the anticipation of the general elections, set to be held on July 25, allegations regarding military interference are on the rise. It isn’t just the media houses and journalists that are propagating these claims. Ministers and lawmakers from PML-N reported that they have been under pressure and have received threats to join other party.

“It is a chipping away. It’s behind the scenes, under the covers, below the radar,” said PML-N’s outgoing Privatisation Minister Daniyal Aziz using typically coded language to hint at meddling by the generals without naming them.[2]

The elections are an important milestone in Pakistan’s history, however it is marred with several internal challenges. The Election Commission of Pakistan is under scrutiny by the world, and all their decisions and steps weigh heavily on the authenticity or lack thereof of the accusations. It is notable that both the military and the administration have refused to comment on or dispel the accusations about the interference.

Just when Pakistan had dared to hope for the onset of a stable democratic system, the increasing corruption has set it back a few steps. Military has been suspected of censoring newspapers, coercing the members of various parties to change their alliance, thus manipulating the upcoming general elections.

Many Pakistani scholars and liberals are highly disappointed with the interference, since it is creating a negative impact on Pakistan’s political development. Not only is it a violation of democracy, it is also making it difficult for the citizens to trust their government. For all the accolades this second transition may have received, it is panning out to be less of a transformation and leaves one more sceptical than ever.


[1] Pakistan general elections to be held on July 25: All you need to know about the upcoming polls, The Indian Express, May 28,2018

[2] Election to test Pakistan democracy amid allegations of military meddling, June 1, 2018

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3 thoughts on “Upcoming Pakistan Elections: Is Democracy a farce?

  1. Pooja dasani says:

    A great comprehensive view of pakaistan elections.

  2. Anindita says:

    I think the ushering in of democracy in Pakistan isn’t going to be a cakewalk, considering the power the ruling elite have garnered for themselves, and the ineffectiveness of the civil societies, due to lack of influence. The international pressure from Pakistan’s allies, towards the democratization of Pakistan, also isn’t strong, for they prefer working with the powerful military.

  3. Shuchi says:

    There has been a military- civil government clash in Pakistan since the beginning. One can only hope that the upcoming elections and five years thereafter prove that democracy is not a farce.


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