As Pakistan’s elections begin, numerous security experts believe that this is a fake election in which the Army continues to call the shots and one of the country’s leading political parties, the PTI, has the majority of its leadership in jail.
Brigadier (Retd) Anil Gupta, a defence specialist, has called Pakistan’s elections “purely a sham” and stated that the Pakistan Army wants to re-elect Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif. He claimed that Pakistan’s army is once again attempting to mainstream terrorist organizations.
“This election in Pakistan is a purely a sham election. The Pakistan army of late has got used to governing Pakistan through remote control. So that if things go wrong, they can blame the civil administration. They already made up their mind. They want to bring in Nawaz Sharif. All this is being done, this exercise in futility is being done to bring back Nawaz Sharif. They have ensured that there is no opposition” Brigadier Gupta (Retd) said.
“Imran Khan and his party are already decimated. Imran Khan is in jail. All important leaders of his party are in jail. Hence, it’s a foregone conclusion that the next Prime Minister of Pakistan is going to be Nawaz Sharif, who is having the blessings of the Pakistan Army. But one thing more dangerous in this election is that Pakistan is once again trying, the army is once again trying to mainstream the terrorist organizations there,” he added.
More than 17,000 candidates will compete in Pakistan’s elections today, according to Dawn. Voters will elect 266 candidates to the Pakistan National Assembly, who will then select the new Prime Minister via a majority vote. Simultaneously, voters will elect delegates to their respective province assemblies, who will subsequently select provincial chief executives in a similar manner.
Former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan, Ajay Bisaria, feels the elections are rigged and the outcome is inevitable.
“From all accounts, these elections on 8th February are not just the most predictable, but also the most rigged, because it’s clear for everyone in Pakistan if you see the commentary that is coming from within the country, that the election results are clear, the army in various ways is doing pre-election engineering, it will probably do some election engineering and post-election engineering to get a government that it wants in place. It is said that it will possibly be a selection of Nawaz Sharif and his PMLN party, I think that is a widespread expectation, and that’s fairly accurate” Bisaria said.
Defence Expert Qamar Agha further stated that when relations between the Army and the Sharifs developed, everything was predetermined.
“The result of these elections is pre-decided, right from who will be the Prime Minister to how many seats will each party win. If you see there are 2 main candidates, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto. On one hand, Nawaz Sharif is trying to emerge as the single largest party, but if he forms a government in coalition, then he might promote his daughter Maryam as Prime Minister. Nawaz Sharif’s relations with the Pakistan Army have improved, his family has been rehabilitated, and he has been forgiven for his crimes. Violence is regularly going on in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Even if the army manages these elections, running the government will be a very difficult task seeing the serious economic crisis and political instability in the country.” Agha said.
Speaking on the attacks happening during the election process, Defence Expert Sushant Sareen said, “There was an apprehension that there will be these kind of attacks on the electoral process. In fact, the attacks have been happening for over a week now. And there was an attack on a police station. Over a dozen policemen were killed. There have been a number of other attacks at smaller levels against candidates in Balochistan. It’s particularly bad. because both in the Baloch areas as well as the Pashtun areas, there’s a lot of resistance to Pakistan out there, and people don’t identify themselves with the elections. So, I think there is this wave of violence which has taken over.”
He mentioned that many people have overlooked minor attacks on candidates, their offices, and others. He stated that there is some speculation that the Pakistani army was carrying out “false flag attacks” in these incidents. He stated that some of these attacks will ensure that voting is low, allowing the military to control how voting is conducted.
“There have been smaller attacks, which have escaped the attention of many people on candidates, on their offices, and others. There is some speculation whether these attacks were being done as false flag attacks by the Pakistan army because there was some speculation that they might not want elections to go ahead in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. So you carry out an election in Sindh and Punjab and then delay the elections in the other two provinces where at least in KP, there was an apprehension that Imran Khan’s party or his candidate might do much better and then create a problem out there” Sareen said.
“But, I think over the last couple of days, the military seems to have been convinced that they’ve managed to get a hold over the situation. And some of these attacks will ensure that the turnout at polling stations is low, which means that it kind of allows the military to ensure that voting goes the way they want it to go and their favorites and the people they are backing can actually win these elections. And I say win in inverted commas. So I think that is what is happening. It’s unfortunate that there have been so many lives lost. There’s been so much of violence. But, this was expected anyways,” he added.
Dawn reported that two back-to-back bombs shook Balochistan on Wednesday, killing at least 26 people and injuring several more.