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Turmoil in Pakistan if polls stand disputed, says report

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Turmoil in Pakistan if polls stand disputed, says report

Islamabad, Feb 7 (IANS) With Pakistan’s 10th general elections set to take place on Thursday (February 8), a report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) predicts the country is inching towards contested polls, the media reported on Wednesday.

The report mentioned that there are chances of damaging the incoming government’s legitimacy no matter which party assumes power, as opportunities to address the flaws in the process are fast shrinking. Therefore, the election day could be marred by disputed polls, The News reported.

The report points out that amid the deep polarisation in the country, the superior judiciary has removed some of the hurdles that lie in the way of a reasonably competitive election, but, on the other hand, the Supreme Court’s support for the election commission’s decision to deny the PTI a common election symbol has sparked fierce controversy.

“Pakistan is holding general elections in a climate of deep political polarisation and a military crackdown on former prime minister Imran Khan’s PTI.

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“The election commission must ensure that all parties, including the PTI, contest the polls and all voters, particularly women, are able to cast their ballots. A disputed poll would damage the incoming government’s legitimacy, leaving it ill-equipped to deal with the political and economic instability that is sure to follow,” says ICG Asia Director Huong Le Thu, The News reported.

Pointing to what it says is the country’s economic survival which states that a standby agreement with the IMF, which ends in March, was a short-term fix, aimed at ensuring that the economy did not collapse before a new government is chosen.

“A new, longer-term deal with the IMF will be crucial to ensure the continued flow of external assistance to cash-starved Pakistan. But such an agreement will not be enough to keep the economy afloat in the absence of political stability, something that will be elusive without a peaceful, credible transfer of power,” it advocates.

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The report says that the election commission, the body primarily responsible for overseeing the polls, is going into the 2024 contest with “damaged credibility”, The News reported.

–IANS

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