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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Pakistan Army controlled electoral process to install Imran Khan in 2018?

PDM has chiefly focused on the role of the Pakistan army in political process in installing Prime Minister Imran Khan. However, European Union Election Observation Mission and the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) observed that “no rigging had been observed during the election day in general” during the General Elections 2018.

Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday emphasized that the Pakistan Army was “not involved” in the country’s politics in the past nor would it be in the future. Speaking to the media in Islamabad, he questioned why the leaders of the opposition’s Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) did not take the name of Gen Ziaul Haq when they talked about the alleged role of the army in politics.

Rashid was countering the PDM”s narrative against the incumbent government.

“They polished Ziaul Haq’s boots. They are a product of General Headquarters gate number four. Pakistan Army is a great army. It was not in politics, is not, and will not be in politics. It was with democracy, is with and will be with democracy.”

Responding to a question about the possibility of a Grand National dialogue, Rashid said the opposition had been “silent” for two years because they thought “something would come out” but when it did not happen, “they [suddenly] remembered everything.”

Notably, sources claim that the establishment now seems to be ready for talks, albeit its reluctance to give NRO to the Sharif family, to end the prevailing political insecurity. “The establishment cannot remove Prime Minister Imran Khan from the office for its own sake but there are some concessions to be given to PML-N, PPP, and JUI-F,”  a reliable source told GVS. However, it is yet to be seen if Prime Minister Imran Khan shall accept any such deal or not.

Read More: Elections 2018: A massive political exercise

Rashid also said that the government would decide on its response when the PDM announced the date for its long march. “Imran Khan can take any decision. We have not held a meeting on how we will set up welcome camps for them.”

PDM’s anti-establishment narrative

PDM has been seen carrying an anti-establishment narrative since its creations. Nawaz Sharif named the Army Chief and DG ISI for political engineering in the country. “General Bajwa is responsible for installing incompetent Imran Khan,” he said while addressing PDM rally from London.

Interestingly, PTI presented the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2020, in the National Assembly (NA) to give extension in service to the Army Chief, PML-N and PPP offered their ‘unconditional’ support.

A delegation of PTI lawmakers comprising Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Leader of the House for the Senate Shibli Faraz and Senator Azam Swati called on PML-N leaders where the latter assured their support for the proposed amendments.

The PML-N delegation comprised Khawaja Asif, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, and Rana Tanvir, among others.  PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan, while talking to media, said that the party’s supremo Nawaz Sharif gave the nod to support the amendments through consensus.

Elections 2018: Pakistan’s dirtiest electoral exercise?

It is important to note that in the National Assembly elections in 2018, the PTI received the most votes and won the most seats. At the provincial level, the PTI remained the largest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) and after several independents MPAs joined it, the party became the largest party and was able to form a government.

Election Day saw the PTI receive 31.82% of the vote (its highest share of the vote since its foundation), while the PML-N received 24.35%.

Some analysts in Pakistan and international media have been focusing on Pakistan’s elections, terming it as the dirtiest elections in the history of Pakistan. But the Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen) expressed satisfaction over the July 25, 2018, election and overall process.

The independent watchdog said the elections were free, fair, and transparent. Although there were minor irregularities in the electoral process, yet the overall election was free and fair, and, hence, its results are “credible”, it added.

Read More: Elections 2018: Pakistan’s dirtiest elections or the fairest? – Moeed Pirzada

Similarly, in its preliminary report, the European Union Election Observation Mission said that no rigging had been observed during the election day in general, but found a “lack of equality” and criticized the process more than it had in the Pakistani election of 2013.

So under the light of these reports of these internationally recognized organizations, the election results seem to be acceptable and the narrative of the PDM a tool to get concessions to evade the accountability process.