Nawaz Sharif or Bilawal Bhutto Zardari? What Pakistan Elections Mean For India
Photo : AP
Islamabad: Pakistan is voting for their next Prime Minister today - February 8, 2024. The polling is underway amid tight security and internet blackouts. Around 128 million people are expected to cast their vote today for the next Pakistani PM.
With Imran Khan in jail, the PTI chairman has been barred form contesting, leaving three time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and millennial candidate Bilawal Bhutto Zardari as the key players.
As of now, all eyes are on Nawaz Sharif, who is seeking a fourth term as PM and has been projected to emerge as the winner of the race.
Pakistan Elections 2024 - What do the elections mean for India?
India and Pakistan share turbulent ties since the days of partition. From Kashmir to cross border terrorism, New Delhi and Pakistan have their fair share of tensions.
For the Pakistan elections, Nawaz Sharif is projected to win. These elections also come at a time when India is also preparing for its general elections, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to win.
Pakistan also has a history of military influence, especially during elections. Due to this, New Delhi is expected to closely monitor the current elections.
During the last elections, in 2018, Imran Khan was "selected" as the Prime Minister to oust Nawaz Sharif. However, in 2022, Khan too was ousted in an alleged plot by the military and replaced with Shehbaz Sharif.
For the 2024 elections, experts and analysts have stated that Nawaz Sharif is the military's "chosen one".
"What is scheduled to happen on February 8 seems less like an election and more like a selection because Pakistan's Army has shown us in the past few days what result they are desiring in the upcoming elections. They want Nawaz Sharif to be selected," stated former High Commissioner to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria to news agency ANI.
If Nawaz Sharif is selected as the next PM, he was vowed to normalise ties with New Delhi. In his manifesto for the Pakistan Muslim League, Sharif has promised to send a "message of peace" to many countries including India.
However, Nawaz added that this message of peace will only be extended if the Indian government reverses its August 2019 decision - in which Article 370 for Jammu and Kashmir was abrogated.
In an alternate case, if Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is elected, the tensions between both the neighbours are expected to rise. Bhutto, who is known for is anti-India stance has been very vocal in his criticism for India and Narendra Modi. Bhutto was also one of the leaders who called on the international community to recognise India as a "rogue Hindutva terrorist state" after Canada’s explosive allegations against New Delhi.
Polling in Pakistan will end at 5 PM local time. The unofficial results will pour in by the end of the day. However, the final results are expected to be announced by February 22, 2024.