“You might be wondering why it has taken us a couple of days to talk about Pakistan politics and Pakistani elections, one of our favourite subjects; that’s because one, the situation has been fast-moving and second, the situation has been much too cluttered also for me to hold forth on it…”
This is how The Print’s editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta started his Cut The Clutter episode 48 hours after the general elections. And cluttered undoubtedly it has been.
Following the turbulent year Pakistan’s politics has faced, the international media’s coverage of the country’s elections — undisputedly controversial even before the date was announced — has been hard-hitting, to say the least. From the pre-poll phase to election day irregularities to the post-poll counting process — the attempts to subvert the PTI that were blatantly executed have not gone unnoticed; neither has the fact that PTI-backed candidates clinched majority National Assembly seats in spite of them.
Here, Dawn.com looks at some of the reporting and analysis from across the globe on the elections that were, contrary to the pre-poll predictions, anything but predictable.
“Attempts to ignore Khan and his supporters may trigger further unrest and instability. That is the opposite of what the country needs. At a time in history when the integrity of democracy in India and Bangladesh also faces serious questions, Pakistanis should take a moment to celebrate the voter revolt of 2024.”
“The independents’ strong performance points to Khan’s enduring popularity among the nation’s 129 million registered voters, many of whom are struggling to make ends meet amid the fastest inflation in Asia. It also highlights public disillusionment with the status quo of Pakistani politics, represented by the parties of the Sharif and Bhutto clans.”
The New York Times — Shocking opposition victory throws Pakistan into chaos
“The success of Mr Khan’s party upended the decades-old political playbook governing Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of 240 million. Throughout those years, the military has wielded ultimate authority, guiding its politics behind a veil of secrecy, and civilian leaders have typically risen to power only with its support — or been driven from office by its heavy hand.”
“But whoever ends up winning the election, the way it was conducted will guarantee recriminations over the validity of the result, and serves as a bleak reminder of the power still held by the country’s military establishment to try and interfere with its democratic processes.”
“To me, the PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto Zardari could well be the kingmaker. His centrist party will need to decide if it’s the status quo of Sharif they want to get behind or the more radical agenda of the independents. What is clear is the military has taken a hit this election. For the first time ever, they appeared to back a candidate at odds with the political winds of the rest of the country.”
“[…] the question remains how PTI supporters will react to their disenfranchisement, not least given the grim state of the economy. On May 9, PTI supporters ransacked military premises in response to an earlier, fleeting arrest of Khan. He may remain behind bars, but Thursday’s election shows the sporting icon is far from done as a political force.”
“The country’s real power-wielder, however, was not on the ballot paper, and Pakistanis were never given a symbol or say on the issue. The 2024 general election was dubbed the most rigged in Pakistan’s history, with wags on social media calling it the ‘generals’ election’, referring to the all-powerful military in the nuclear-armed South Asian nation.”
“While hobnobbing and cobbling up an alliance to suit the establishment must already be underway, any government by ‘selection’ is not acceptable anymore to the people of Pakistan. Should the government formation look different from the mandate of the people, expect chaos in the streets of Pakistan.”
“The election, voting for which began the morning of Feb 8, comes at an especially turbulent time for the country of 240 million. Known for its decades of volatile politics involving assassinations, imprisonments and military coups, Pakistan is now in the throes of an economic crisis and its largest party has been banned from running in the election.”
Financial Times — Imran Khan loyalists win shock victory in Pakistan election
“Many voters, particularly young people swept up by Khan’s promises for a ‘new Pakistan’, were dismayed by the thought of another term under the Sharif dynasty — Nawaz’s brother Shehbaz served as prime minister last year.”
“A stock response after an election, according to Hasan Askari Rizvi, a Lahore-based military analyst who wrote a book about the army’s role in Pakistani politics. He said the open question is whether the country’s military, used to being the ultimate authority in Pakistan, is willing to accept the message that was sent from the electorate, who came out in large numbers to cast their ballots for Khan.”