Foreign Meddling in Pakistan’s Electoral Process

Foreign meddling in Pakistani elections
Image Credits: AFP

In the wake of Pakistan’s recent elections, a troubling narrative has emerged, marred by unfounded allegations and foreign meddling. Certain groups in the United States and the United Kingdom have taken it upon them to raise questions on the legitimacy of Pakistan’s democratic process.

Addressing Allegations of Election Legitimacy

However, an in-depth examination reveals that such claims are nothing but a thinly-veiled conspiracy for subverting the Pakistani people’s democratic will. At the forefront of this misguided campaign are a handful of Congressional members from the United States and United Kingdom, who, seemingly oblivious to ground realities, have embarked upon a baseless banter against conduct of Pakistan’s election. Their motivations appear deep-rooted in self-interest and with vested agendas and by no means aim to field a legitimate concern for democracy and human rights.

In an effort to increase visibility of Pakistan’s electoral process to foreign media, the Government of Pakistan extended visas to 82 foreign journalists based at different capitals of world. 25 members of Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) and scores of observers from Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) also arrived in Pakistan for the coverage of General Elections.

The aim of this effort was to upholding the principles of democracy integral to the state’s structure so that international observers could notice the transparency in the polling process. Prominent figure such as Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, Chairperson of the Commonwealth Observer Group, emphasized that presence of COG was solely dedicated to evaluating the fairness and transparency of the election process on the election day itself. He clarified that their focus remained steadfast on assessing the events of the election day, without engaging in responses to external statements or news from countries such as Britain, America, France, or China.

Commonwealth observers deployed to polling stations across Pakistan on February 8th.
Commonwealth observers deployed to polling stations across Pakistan on February 8th. [Image Credits: The Commonwealth]

Foreign Meddling and Misinformation Campaigns

The elections were held under safe and secure environment, despite attempts of sabotage by certain political quarters. Caretaker Prime Minister, in a press statement expressed satisfaction on the security situation across the country during polling. He said that, “I announce with immense satisfaction that the overall security situation across the country was kept generally stable to ensure the peaceful conduct of free and fair elections”.

Read More: Pakistan’s Elections – Political Stability & National Security

Pakistan’s Army Chief General Asim Munir congratulated the country for the successful conduct of national elections, saying the nation needed stable hands to move on from the politics of anarchy and polarization. COAS also wished that elections could bring in much-needed political and economic stability and prove to be the harbinger of peace and prosperity for Pakistan.

Caretaker Federal Minister for Interior Dr. Gohar Ejaz also expressed his satisfaction over the peaceful conduct of General Elections in Pakistan, under exceptional security circumstances.

Regardless of Pakistan’s efforts towards the preservation of democratic values, certain foreign entities however, persist in spreading misinformation and sowing seeds of distrust.

Such unwarranted foreign meddling not only undermines the democratic process but also disregards the will of the Pakistani electorate. It is worth highlighting here that all such stories from a negative light on foreign media outlets are portraying dissident political leader ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan as a victim, while casting a dark shadow on the state and its legitimate institutions.

Read More: Post-Election Blame Game in Pakistan

Bearing this in mind, this coordinated media onslaught appears to be a manifestation of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s “Plan C”, which was repeatedly mentioned in his speeches. Also allegedly termed as “Operation Goldsmith,” Plan C is a smear vilification campaign of Pakistan and its Armed Forces with collaboration of Jewish lobbies, sponsored foreign media outlets, overseas entities with an anti-Pakistan agenda, and few dissident voices within Pakistan, particularly those in sync with PTI’s agenda. The purpose is to drive a wedge between Pakistani people and establishment besides inflicting reputational hurt to Pakistan and its armed forces.   

Involvement of a group of 15-16 US Senators, who have raised questions about the elections in Pakistan, insinuates a dubious connection between the electoral process and their vested interests in Jewish lobbies and monetary gains.

The allegations by these Congressmen and Congresswomen are not only devoid of evidence but also perpetuate harmful stereotypes and prejudices. Moreover, instead of focusing on their domestic challenges, certain political factions within Pakistan, notably the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), appear more fixated on deflecting blame and propagating conspiracy theories.

This diversionary tactic not only distracts the Government from pressing issues but also undermines efforts to address genuine concerns within the country. These individuals, acting as paid influencers, prioritize their vested interests over genuine concerns for democracy and human rights. Their selective outrage, turning a blind eye to humanitarian crises elsewhere, signifies ulterior motives and lack of credibility.

In an effort to dismiss the mass disinformation campaign against the state, Prime Minister of Pakistan conducted a press briefing on February 12th, 2024, giving a strong rebuttal to unfounded allegations about conduct of elections in Pakistan.

Earlier, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) of Pakistan issued a well-contributed statement which said, “We have taken note of statements from certain countries and organizations on the General Elections held in Pakistan on 8 February 2024. We are surprised by the negative tone of some of those statements, which neither take into account the complexity of the electoral process, nor acknowledge the free and enthusiastic exercise of the right to vote by tens of millions of Pakistanis. These statements ignore the undeniable fact that Pakistan has held General Elections, peacefully and successfully, while dealing with serious security threats resulting primarily from foreign-sponsored terrorism. Some statements are not even factual. Pakistan held the elections as part of its commitment to building a stable and democratic society”.

Pakistanis have spoken through their democratic mandate, electing representatives who will now serve their interests in the assemblies. It is incumbent upon the international community to respect Pakistan’s democratic values and refrain from the undue interference. Foreign meddling only serves to undermine the democratic process and perpetuate instability. Pakistan remains steadfast in defending its sovereignty and democratic integrity against baseless allegations and foreign influence, committed to forging its own path towards progress and prosperity.

The views shared in this article reflect the author’s personal views and do not necessarily align with the institution’s official stance.

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Sara Nazir is an Islamabad-based researcher with a background in Strategic Studies & area of interest is non-traditional warfare. She can be reached on saranazeer2@gmail.com & @SaraNazir13 (on X).

Sara Nazir

Sara Nazir is an Islamabad-based researcher with a background in Strategic Studies & area of interest is non-traditional warfare. She can be reached on saranazeer2@gmail.com & @SaraNazir13 (on X).

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