Pakistani Tamassa Election in 2024 

There was and there still is a debate as to whether democracy is compatible with Islam. Using a simplified definition of a democratic society as being one where there are fair and free elections as well as the rule of law, one would say most Muslim countries fail with the exception of a very few that include Turkey, Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Malaysia. 

Saudi Arabian royalty claims its legitimacy to rule because they are the keepers of the two holiest masjids of Makka and Madina, [though they have given refuge to Ben Ali and his 30 tons of gold siphoned from the Tunisian coffer, Nawaz Sharif who was condemned to death by Musharaf and the infamous Idi Amin Dada of Uganda]. The Royals of Jordan and Morocco and the ex-Royals of Iraq claim theirs as being part of Bani Hashim, descendants of Prophet Mohammad (SAW). 

The latest stage where democracy is struggling to survive is Pakistan. Pakistan is a land of paradoxes whose lunatic bombers and kleptomaniac ruling class are more known than the generous souls who run hospitals and universities and daily provide 500,000 free meals in Karachi only. It is also a country where the definite results of a general election are not known two weeks after they were held.  One can say that democracy in Pakistan is both dead and alive! Elections in Pakistan, as in many third world countries, are not totally fair where vote buying is common. The outcome of election results is known in advance as contesting parties, close to the army, are sure to win. The army chief or COAS is believed to be beholden to the USA so said publicly Imran Khan, the ousted PM, and he had to pay for the consequences for that. In any case, whichever party is voted to power, it is made to toe the line dictated by COAS. 

The Pakistani army is the darling of the people who would vote for it if they had electoral candidates. Not much new as in the USA, you need to be a General to have fought and in some cases won a war General Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson who pursued a vicious war in Vietnam and Bush who fabricated a war in Iraq with his deceptive Arms of Mass Destruction, without forgetting General de Gaulle who liberated France from the quagmire of World War11. Pakistani army has the added quality that they are close to the people. 

On February 8, overall majority of Pakistanis defied the army, the police and ruling parties’ henchmen and voted in droves for Imran Khan, though he is languishing in prison together with his wife and his young Turks; his party was also denied legitimacy while the independent candidates who share his ideology and his policies were refused a common symbol of the cricket bat. The electorate refused bribes and forged through barricades of armed goons to the polling stations. They had been given directives as to which candidate to vote and whose electoral symbols were well publicized before the election date as the opposition candidates had foreseen that the junta in power would shut down all communications close to polling dates. Isn’t this a sign of democracy where the people wanted their own government against all odds.

On the other hand, the sad side is that the army, the puppeteer-in-chief, as well as the police and the traditional political parties’ armed gangs have tried and succeeded in robbing part of the victory of Imran Khan’s party which was officially announced as winners but during a blackout on counting night between midnight and four in the morning, the results started being reversed. The army is backing a medical miracle who went to UK for treatment from a terminal disease and who was condemned to death by the same army a decade earlier. As of now Imran Khan’s party is still the one with the greatest number of seats but not enough to have an overall majority. Horse trading is the name of the game and the Electoral Commission and the Judiciary are contradicting each other deciding what the final results would be. They are condemned to agree on a winner on 28 February next. 

In this haze of the Pakistani electoral tamassa, nobody dares make a prediction. Imran Khan has defeated the army from a prison cell. Will he have the final word? Let us say that at present, democracy is fighting for its survival. And let Academia debate whether democracy has won or lost in Pakistan on 8 February 2024.

By Dawood Auleear