Pakistan will hold a general election tomorrow, May 11. The country has been torn by violence in recent weeks as a group identifying itself as the Taliban, claimed that democracy was a force in antipathy to Islam and threatened to disrupt elections with violence. The group carried out some attacks in the weeks leading up to the election, and security forces will be on high alert as polling begins tomorrow.
A BBC piece concerning the Pakistani elections points to five reasons that the results are unpredictable. They are, in the order listed by the BBC, Imran Khan, New Voters, the Taliban, a changing judiciary, and the power of the media. These elections are the first since 2008, and the first since Pervez Musharraf was removed from power in that year.
Imran Khan, the former cricketer, is a difficult to enumerate quantity in Pakistani politics. Long written off as a fringe candidate, this election season has seen Imran Khan attract thousands of people to his mass rallies. According to the BBC, internal polling suggests that Khan will be able to take a significant number of seats in the coming election.
In the 2008 election Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf didn’t manage to take any seats, but a rising, and more politically active middle class could change that.
In Pakistan there are an additional 36 million voters on the country’s register, out of a total of 85 million. There is little in the way of information on the way the new voters will swing in the coming vote, making the outcome far from predictable. The country’s judiciary has become increasingly independent in recent years, meaning that Pakistan’s elections may not be as susceptible to corruption and political pressure as they have been in the past.
Pakistan also has a growing media, and, as with any country with a changing communications structure, that could cause massive upheaval in the vote ahead. Pakistanis journalists will be a useful tool in attempting to put any corruption in the country aside, but their power on the minds of the populace is an unknown quantity.
Pakistan Elections And The Taliban Threat
The Taliban is the most unpredictable factor, and tomorrow will be tense at polling stations. Mobile phone coverage has been suspended in Sindh, and is likely to remain suspended to handicap violent plots and 100 people have already died in election related violence. It is hoed that security forces manage to stop violence before it occurs on election day.