Pakistan’s Controversial Election: New Premier Installed Amidst Allegations of Dynastic Rule and Army Influence

Published: 7 March 2024
ইমরান চৌধুরী

By: Imran Chowdhury, BEM (British Empire Medal) 

An internationally acclaimed Geo-Political analyst

Pakistan finds itself embroiled in controversy once again as the recent election and installation of a new premier have sparked allegations of dynastic rule and undue influence of the military apparatus. The return of Shahbaz Sharif, the younger sibling of Nawaz Sharif, a figure known for his controversial reigns in the past, to the corridors of power has reignited concerns about the democratic process and the role of the Pakistan army’s clandestine operations.

In what many critics call a “concocted election,” the path to power for Nawaz Sharif’s family  and his Pakistan Muslim League (PML) party has been fraught with accusations of manipulation and coercion. The electoral process, which is supposed to be a cornerstone of democracy, has been marred by irregularities and allegations of widespread fraud.

The Sharif siblings’ return to power marks a significant moment in Pakistani politics, not only due to his controversial past but also because of the dynastic nature of his rule. The Sharif family has long been accused of perpetuating a system of nepotism and cronyism, using their political influence to maintain a stranglehold on power. With Shahbaz Sharif’s ascension to the premiership once again, concerns about the consolidation of power within the Sharif dynasty have resurfaced.

Moreover, the role of the Pakistani army in shaping the outcome of the election has come under intense scrutiny. Pakistan has a long history of military intervention in politics, with the army often wielding significant influence behind the scenes. 

Critics argue that the military’s involvement in the electoral process undermines the principles of democracy and erodes public trust in the legitimacy of the government.

The shadowy operations of the military’s secret apparatus further complicate the situation. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, is known for its covert activities both within the country and abroad. 

The extent of the ISI’s involvement in shaping the political landscape of Pakistan is the subject of much speculation, with many alleging that the agency operates with impunity and is accountable to no one but itself.

The installation of Shahbaz Sharif as Premier has raised questions about the extent to which the military played a role in influencing the election outcome. Critics argue that Sharif’s close ties to the military establishment make him a puppet of the army, further entrenching the military’s grip on power.

The implications of Pakistan’s dubious electoral process extend beyond the country’s borders. Pakistan plays a crucial role in regional geopolitics, particularly in its fraught relationship with neighbouring India and its involvement in the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan. The instability caused by a tainted electoral process and the consolidation of power within a dynastic regime could have far-reaching consequences for the region.

Furthermore, the erosion of democratic norms in Pakistan undermines the country’s standing on the world stage. Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state with a population of over 200 million people, making it a significant player in global affairs. The lack of transparency and accountability in the electoral process raises concerns about the country’s commitment to democratic principles and the rule of law.

In response to mounting criticism, the Pakistani government has dismissed allegations of electoral fraud and military interference as baseless. Officials have touted the election as a triumph of democracy and have sought to downplay concerns about the concentration of power within the Sharif dynasty.

However, opposition figures and civil society activists continue to push for accountability and transparency in the electoral process. Calls for an independent investigation into allegations of fraud and undue influence are growing louder as Pakistan grapples with the fallout from a controversial election.

The future of Pakistan hangs in the balance as the country navigates the murky waters of dynastic politics and military interference. The international community, particularly Pakistan’s allies in the West, must closely monitor the situation and hold the Pakistani government accountable for upholding democratic principles and respecting the rule of law.

As Pakistan grapples with the aftermath of a contentious election, the fate of democracy in the country hangs in the balance. Only time will tell whether Pakistan can overcome the challenges of dynastic rule and military interference and chart a course towards a more transparent and inclusive political system.