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What does foreign media say on the Pakistan election

A majority of foreign media reports ahead of the Pakistan general election on Wednesday dwelt on the twin concerns of alleged military interference and militant participation in the electoral contest.

world Updated: Jul 24, 2018 18:12 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi, Hindustan Times
Pakistan Election 2018 Live Coverage,Bilawal Bhutton Zardari,Imran Khan
Soldiers arrive at a polling station in Lahore on Tuesday amid rising allegations of military inference. (AP Photo)

Many foreign media reports published ahead of the Pakistan general election, to be held on Wednesday, dwelt on the twin concerns of likely military interference and militant participation in the democratic exercise.

A BBC article -- titled ‘Pakistan election raises fears of creeping coup’ -- starts by stating that the country’s dream of an undiluted democracy seems to be receding in the light of recent developments, before going on to suggest that its military may just be indulging in a fresh round of political manipulation in an attempt to pull a “democratic coup”. It listed the refusal to release convicted former prime minister Nawaz Sharif ahead of the polls, allowing militant groups to join the political process, and closely monitoring the voting process as some ways in which the military wants to give violently anti-India parties an advantage over moderate ones like Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).

An article in the New York Times, titled ‘Military’s Influence Casts a Shadow Over Pakistan’s Election’, begins by describing how Pakistan Muslim League (N) candidate Rana Iqbal Siraj began receiving calls demanding that he defect from the party that governed Pakistan for the last five years. In June, roughly a month before election day, security officials had raided his business at the behest of the military, Siraj said in an interview.

“They are trying to ruin me financially by raiding my warehouse and beating my staff,” the NYT quoted him as saying. “What am I at fault for? Just because I’m running on the PML-N ticket?”

“The military campaign has been likened by some candidates to a soft coup, and has included sidelining candidates who are out of the military’s favor, censoring major news outlets and persecuting peaceful political movements,” the newspaper said, adding that the most likely beneficiary of this manipulation is Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

The Guardian, for its part, reported how the people of Pakistan were not bowled over by the alleged military interference in the election. An article headlined ‘Anti-military protests rock Pakistan in run-up to fiercely contested election’ describes how protesters queued up on the streets outside the Pakistan military headquarters in an unprecedented show of defiance over the weekend. This, it goes on to say, sums up the mood of the public in the Islamic country.

The Time magazine, however, chose to look at the positive side of things. It reported on the representatives of a small community -- its transgenders -- who were trying to make a mark of their own in the election.

“I am running against big names like Imran Khan and former Prime Minister Shahid Abbasi, and I’m not considered a real threat,” TIME quotes Kashish, who is running as an independent in Pakistan’s nationwide elections on Wednesday, as saying. “People hear about my election run and think it’s a joke, they just start to laugh.”

Nevertheless, the very candidature of Kashish and the others from her community is seen as a great achievement in terms of legal rights in post-Independence Pakistan, although they still face discrimination, harassment and societal exclusion.

First Published: Jul 24, 2018 16:57 IST