Home Editorial Editorial: Pakistan’s Controversial Elections

Editorial: Pakistan’s Controversial Elections

Even ahead of polling day and prolonged delays in results, the 2024 general elections were already controversial

by Editorial

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The 2024 general elections have proven controversial amidst allegations of rigging, with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) having questioned their transparency even before their conduct. A guest essay published by The Economist, and attributed to PTI founder Imran Khan, alleged the former prime minister had serious doubts about the elections, reiterating his claims of a U.S.-orchestrated “regime change.” He also described the May 9 riots as a “false-flag operation” that was “pre-planned.” Even after PTI-backed independent candidates secured more wins in the polls than any other party—though still insufficient to form government—the party has maintained it was denied its true mandate.

Adding to the controversy is a shutdown of mobile networks on polling day and prolonged delays in the release of results by authorities. The rigging allegations have prompted the independent Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) to urge the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to audit all legally challenged results of the elections—a demand yet to be catered.

Even ahead of the polls, the ECP’s fresh delimitation had triggered controversy, with the PTI alleging it aimed to favor PMLN leader Nawaz Sharif. The party had similarly alleged the military establishment was favoring Sharif and paving the way for his return to power for a record fourth time. However, the results of the polls suggest these fears were overblown. For now, regardless of any alleged malfeasance, parties with majorities have started forming provincial governments and a PPP-PMLN coalition is on track to form the next government at the center. If history is any indication, contested results will wind their way through Pakistan’s judicial system for months, it not years, and any clarity on the extent of the manipulation is unlikely to emerge until the incoming governments have been entrenched.

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