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A few days ago, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu submitted a written testimony in the American Congress, saying the general elections in Pakistan seemed to be as per law but there had been ‘irregularities’ in how the results were compiled.

Donald Lu’s testimony had come ahead of his scheduled appearance in US Congress Foreign Affairs subcommittee. We all know that Mr Lu was the central figure of a controversy that seemed to have cost Imran Khan his government in 2022.

Therefore, the observations that he made about the credibility of the elections do not necessarily add to the stance of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) that the election were held in fair, free and transparent manner. Except for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), almost all parties that had entered the election fray have made allegations of vote rigging on an “unprecedented scale”.

In my view, the Feb 8 general elections had become highly controversial much before the nation actually went to the polls. The main reason behind this grotesque example of credibility erosion was Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI’s) lament through which it had been through which it had been conveying to the world that it had been deprived of a level playing field.

Depriving the party, perhaps the single largest party of the country, of a level playing field stemmed from a strategy aimed at dimming or eliminating the electoral prospects of the party.

No doubt, it had been an extremely difficult electioneering for the party, so when the Election Commission of Pakistan did not allow the party to use its iconic bat symbol, forcing its candidates to context the election as independent candidates, it was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Embittered by the entire election exercise, which appeared to be shorn of democratic sanctity, the electorates therefore threw up an extremely divisive and polarized mandate.

I wonder why the global election monitoring bodies or individuals, including US official Lu, have not taken into consideration the pre-poll situation in Pakistan while preparing their reports about the authenticity or credibility of the elections.

Ahmad Raza (Karachi)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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