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Pakistan Election 2024: World media, community divided on credibility of vote

A woman casts her vote at a polling station during Pakistans national election in Lahore on February 8, 2024. — AFP
A woman casts her vote at a polling station during Pakistan’s national election in Lahore on February 8, 2024. — AFP

World media is divided on Pakistan’s general elections held amid security unrest and political disconnect; however, shutdown of connectivity on polling day and painfully slow release of unofficial results have given rise to allegations of rigging casting doubts on the overall credibility of the vote worldwide.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the independent candidates supported by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are in a virtual tie for the majority of seats in the national legislature as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) finally starts releasing results following a protracted delay amid mixed reactions from the international community.

The BBC reported that the PTI was claiming to be leading on more than 100 seats due to the first delay in the results release and the early unofficial election results that were published by local TV channels.

But the ECP disassociated itself from “the unofficial, incomplete results” that local media were reporting, blaming the government’s suspension of phone and internet services for the delay in the announcement of results.

Many candidates have accused the commission of tampering with the election results, and the entire affair has sparked controversy surrounding the results that the commission has officially announced.

Meanwhile, Iran’s ambassador to Pakistan, Raza Amiri Moghadam, congratulated the government on “safe and secure” elections.

On Friday, the Joe Biden Administration said that Pakistan’s people should choose their future leaders as per their free will.

“Millions of Pakistanis went to the polls today to vote and I will reiterate that Pakistan’s future leadership is for the Pakistani people to decide, and our interest continues to be in the democratic process,” State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters at his daily news conference.

He denounced any acts of violence connected to the election, both in the weeks leading up to and on the February 8 polling day.

“These kinds of election-related violence, we believe, affected a broad range of political parties across Pakistan. It impacted polling stations, election officers, as well as the election commission,” he said as he raised concerns regarding the restrictions on the exercise of freedom of expression.

This election is among the least credible in Pakistan, and the results have been released later than in prior elections, as per the analysts.

There were about 44 parties that ran for seats in the National Assembly, although most experts concur that there is only one candidate for the top job, that is Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

In addition to international political representatives, global media organisations also aligned mixed political ideologies in their coverage of Pakistan’s election.

CNN and the BBC hinted towards the lack of credibility and rigging amid violence during the Pakistani election.

Time published a piece with the title, “Pakistan’s elections are being brazenly rigged. Why doesn’t the US seem to care?”, which summed up the chronological history of PTI after the May 9 riots and the expectations of the International Community from these elections.

Other international media also reported on the rigging during these elections along with separately analysing the win capabilities of the three major parties.

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