Pakistan to Have Rigged Elections

Pakistan observers have been writing for the past few weeks about the blatant way the Army and the ISI are interfering in the general elections to be held next Wednesday. The Army’s role in the politics of Pakistan has been known for long. Any elected civil government to be in power cannot afford to be on the wrong side of the Army because the civil government – of whichever party – is really a façade for the Army. But, to its credit the judiciary, especially the higher judiciary, had maintained its independence. The Army had also maintained its respect for the judiciary, at least in public. Way back in 2013, it was the judiciary that ordered the arrest of former Army general Pervez Musharraf which made the former dictator flee from his country.
Things have changed since and changed for the worse. Pakistan watchers have been pointing out that the Army has taken the judiciary on board and that the judiciary has been playing a complicit role with the Army Establishment. The ouster of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from office, sending him to prison and banning him from politics for life is seen to be a glaring instance of the way the higher judiciary in Pakistan is working in the interest of the Army. What was until now a suspicion has now been confirmed as a fact. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui has told a meeting organized by the Rawalpindi Bar Association that the Army had promised to make him the Chief Justice months before his promotion was due if he agreed to keep Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam behind the bar until after the elections.
It is a loaded dice farce of an election which Pakistan is going to witness next Wednesday. The Army’s blue-eyed boy, Imran Khan and his party, the Pakistan Tehreeq e Insaf (PTI), are expected to win hands down. Nawaz Sharif took a calculated risk by returning to Pakistan before the elections, risking immediate arrest. He might have thought that his arrest and imprisonment will create a groundswell of sympathy for him and his party the PML(N) and return it to power, even if he himself remains in jail. That, apparently, is not going to happen. The Army may succeed in having its way. We in India are fortunate that our judiciary fiercely defends and retains its independence and our army fiercely maintains its tradition of being strictly apolitical.

Monday, 23 July, 2018