How Do Pakistan's Elections Size Up Without Imran Khan?
15:48 08.02.2024 (Updated: 16:24 08.02.2024)
Imran Khan, who is currently incarcerated on corruption charges, has fought numerous legal battles to secure the right to participate in the polls that are taking place today, on February 8.
Experts have labelled Pakistan's general elections, which are being carried out without the participation of Imran Khan despite his widespread popularity, as "restricted" and "undemocratic."
“It’s a restricted exercise without Imran Khan. However, it would ensure an elected government for the country,” Sushant Sareen, an expert on the issue, told Sputnik on Thursday.
He stated that millions of voters are currently casting their ballots, and the winning candidate or the one who can secure a majority through a post-election alliance
, either with independent candidates or a political party, will undoubtedly form the new government. However, Khan's absence raises concerns about the credibility of the entire process.
Sareen also predicted a hung assembly for Pakistan, with Nawaz Sharif having more chances than others to lead the next government.
If Khan had been present to compete in the elections, he firmly believed that the outcome would have been vastly different. This is primarily due to the fact that an ever-growing number of people in Pakistan and around the globe would have embraced and supported his candidacy.
“Had he been not put in jail and [had he been] given the opportunity to contest the elections, the whole exercise, which is shrouded in doubt, would have gained more credibility,” he contended.
Commenting on whether Khan had forfeited his right to run in the polls in light of his multiple convictions, or if there was a conspiracy against him, Sareen expressed his belief that it was just plain "dirty politics."
"In Pakistan, this is not a new phenomenon, as several leaders have been imprisoned in the past. Therefore, it is not just Imran Khan losing his right, but rather a conspiracy designed to prevent him from contesting. This dubious exercise raises concerns worldwide," he stressed.
Another expert, Qamar Agha
, a strategic analyst, echoed similar views on the matter, maintaining that the upcoming elections would not be accepted by the international community due to the absence of Imran Khan
, former Prime Minister and founder of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
“These cannot be seen as fair polls. How can a political figure like him be kept out of the general elections,” he asked, adding that it’s “undemocratic”.
Pakistan's parliamentary democracy involves voting for seats in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures.
Voters have the opportunity to chose two legislators, one at the federal level and another at the provincial level, to represent their constituency.
According to reports, there are 5,121 candidates vying for seats in the federal legislature and 12,695 contenders running in the provincial elections.
Meanwhile, the polling started at 8.00 AM (local time) and will continue uninterrupted until 5.00 PM.
A countrywide public holiday was also declared to enable all registered voters to cast their ballots.