Pakistan will vote on July 25. It will be the third successive time that people of Pakistan will exercise their so-called democratic right to elect lawmakers for its Parliament and Assemblies. However, in the true sense, the whole engagement for a free and fair election there is a deliberate farce driven solely by its army. As Reham Khan pointed out in an exclusive interview to News Nation, “holding elections in Pakistan is a waste of money”.
The fall and rise of democracy in Pakistan
Of its 70 years of existence, Pakistan has been ruled by four military dictators which accounts for more than half of its tenure since its birth. The military establishment in Pakistan plays a pivotal role in the governance of the country. The fall and rise of democracy in Pakistan is at the exclusive discretion of its army and not its people.
The fact that two parties have successfully completed their term of governance is due to the verity that the army resisted all temptations of a coup, especially post the Panama Papers leaks fiasco in which Nawaz Sharif and his family were indicted.
To promote a puppet government elected by the people
The international community, particularly the US has a habit to meddle in the internal affairs of countries under the pretext of advocating democracy and free will of people. What we see today in the Middle East is a result of their intruding policy. Since, the US is a major benefactor of Pakistan, the military will never want to annoy them by assuming absolute control but at the same time will love to keep all decisive powers with them. Therefore, the best possible option is to promote a puppet government elected by the people.
The main poll battle is between PTI, PML-N
Domestically in Pakistan, the main fight is between two parties—Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) and Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). As per reports, PML-N enjoys a better prospect in the election but for the army, Imran Khan is the “mamma’s boy” this time. Consequently, they covertly want to ensure that Imran doesn’t face any hurdle in the run up to the PM’s post, therefore very subtly through its alleged influence over judiciary it has disqualified Nawaz and Maryam from contesting elections now or forever under the charges of corruption.
Nawaz too has displayed his ever-fighting will by returning to Pakistan and accepting arrest. An emotional photo tweeted by a journalist of Nawaz bidding farewell to his ailing wife with Maryam bursting into tears will significantly swing a lot of sympathetic votes in his favour.
And, the mere presence of Nawaz on Pakistani soil is enough for his party workers to remain motivated.
Devising a fool proof scheme
The army, perhaps, has devised a fool proof scheme. If plan A fails, then there’s plan B.
First, it has ensured that the maximum candidates contest elections independently with one symbol ie the Jeep, so that while voting electorates are under the confusion of voting for a political party rather than an independent contestant.
Second, under the veil of championing the cause of democracy it’s motivating parties like Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (AMA), Hafiz Saeed's Allah-o-Akbar party (AoA), Tehreek-e-Labaik-i-Pakistan (TLP) to participate in elections. These fringe elements will act as vote eaters for the PTI and the PML-N and may ensure hung parliament. Therefore, in either case, the power will rest with the army.
This could be a classic example of how military strategy has been used to usurp control of a country no matter who comes to power and at the same time silencing all critics domestically and internationally. While on one hand the army will give a sense of pacification to its people in the form of their participation in governance, on the other it will hold a dagger at the neck of elected members. In other words, the army will execute its will through the elected lawmakers but will not be held responsible for any of their act.
How will the elections in Pakistan impact India?
How the elections in Pakistan will impact India is an imminent question. Well, it wouldn’t change anything. There will be the same anti-Pakistan rhetoric here particularly in the light of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections while the Pakistan Army will continue to prosper under the perceived threat from India. Cross-firing at borders will continue and so will stone pelting in J&K.
If Hafiz Saeed emerges as kingmaker in Pakistan politics, he may get a dignitary status to represent Pakistan as well. Every disruption in India would be linked to ISI and Pakistan, cricket matches between India and Pakistan yet again will be seen through the kaleidoscope of war, media in both the countries will keep mudslinging at each other but the significant catch is, politics in both countries can’t live without each other.