With Pakistan election 2024 throwing up a hung verdict, and Independents backed by Imran Khan’s party PTI dominating the tally, the political landscape appears fuzzy. Army Chief General Asim Munir, it seems, has decided on the road ahead.
“Pakistan’s diverse polity and pluralism will be well-represented by a unified government of all democratic forces imbibed with national purpose,” he said in a statement released by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the military’s media wing.
It appears to be an endorsement of what PML-N boss and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, whose party is poised to be the single largest, has said—he would hold discussions to form a coalition government.
“Elections and democracy are means to serve people of Pakistan and not ends in themselves. The nation needs stable hands and a healing touch to move on from the politics of anarchy and polarization,” said Gen Munir.
PTI, which was barred from contesting the polls, has raised allegations of rigging and subversion of the electoral process. Its leader, former PM Imran Khan, is in jail for corruption and hence couldn’t contest.
The US isn’t too happy with the environment in which polling was done. We join credible international and local election observers in their assessment that these elections included undue restrictions on freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly,” the State department has said.
The European Union was scathing. “We regret the lack of a level playing field due to the inability of some political actors to contest the elections, restrictions to freedom of assembly, freedom of expression both online and offline, restrictions of access to the internet, as well as allegations of severe interference in the electoral process.”
The Australian government rued the restrictions imposed. “It is regrettable, however, that the Pakistani people were restricted in their choice, since not all political parties were allowed to contest these elections.”
Pakistan’s economy is in doldrums and violence by extremists has been on the rise. The run-up to the polls has also been mired in political bitterness but the Army chief is now advocating restraint. “Elections are not a zero-sum competition of winning and losing but an exercise to determine the mandate of the people. Political leadership and their workers should rise above self-interests and synergise efforts in governing”.
It’s unclear how much of the General’s statesman-like words will be taken seriously by the politicians. But he knows if they don’t fall in line, he will have to complete the political drill himself.
(The story is being republished courtesy StratNews Global)