Watch | 'Pakistan Election Already Decided, 8th February a Mere Formality'

'The elections are perceived as stolen and it seems certain that Nawaz Sharif will win,' says Zahid Hussain, one of the country’s most highly regarded journalists and authors, in conversation with Karan Thapar.

In a sharp and stinging critique of Pakistan’s upcoming elections, scheduled to take place in three days on February 8, one of the country’s most highly regarded journalists and authors has said, “This election has already been decided. The election results have been decided, and it’s a formality on February 8.”

Zahid Hussain said, “The elections are perceived as stolen” and it seems certain that Nawaz Sharif will win.

Hussain said this is “the worst election we have ever seen in Pakistan”. He said the manipulation and rigging is “so blatant… much worse than anything in the past”. He said this is “the most lacklustre election campaign I have ever witnessed”.

In a 30-minute interview to Karan Thapar for The Wire, Hussain, who has written extensively for the British paper The Times as well as the Wall Street Journal, added that “the election has already lost its credibility”.

Speaking from Islamabad, he said “if the turnout is low, they will have no credibility at all.”

He made it clear that the principal factor that has shredded the credibility of the forthcoming elections in Pakistan is the manner in which Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party have been treated. He said if it’s a free and fair election, Khan would probably win or, at least, be the single biggest party. Now instead, it will be Nawaz Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) party that will either win or be the largest.

Speaking about the role of Army Chief Asim Munir and the army after the election is over, Hussain said: “The army is deeply entrenched… all parties are looking towards the military for support.” He said the hybrid collaboration that Pakistan witnessed when Khan and the army worked together from 2018 until his ouster will increase and be greater in the future.

He further said that he expected the new government to lack credibility and to be incapable of rising to the challenges Pakistan faces, both economically and in terms of internal security. According to him, nothing will change after the elections as the new government will not be in a position to effectively tackle these challenges.