Thursday Briefing: The Stakes of Pakistan’s Elections

By John Mercury February 9, 2024

Pakistan is holding its national elections today. Experts say they will be among the least credible in the country’s history. Days before the vote, Imran Khan, who was ousted as prime minister in 2022, was sentenced to a total of 24 years in prison in two separate verdicts. The sentences were widely seen as part of a military-led campaign to sideline Khan’s political party.

Tensions are running high. Yesterday, two separate explosions outside election offices in an insurgency-hit area of Pakistan killed at least 22 people.

For more on the elections, I reached out to Christina Goldbaum, our Afghanistan and Pakistan bureau chief.

What is the mood in Pakistan right now?

Christina: The military’s crackdown on Imran Khan and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or P.T.I., has made this one of the most lackluster election cycles we’ve seen in Pakistan.

There hasn’t been the usual boisterous campaigning from political parties. Up until a few weeks ago, many people doubted that the elections would actually take place in February.

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