With Pakistan's critical national elections scheduled to take place on Feb. 8, attention is focused not only on the race and its expected outcomes but also on the health of the country’s democracy and implications of the reinvigorated influence of the military on the political process. Will the upcoming elections, described by some as "pre-rigged," be free, fair, or result in a conclusive, broadly accepted, outcome? To what degree has the bitter political wrangling over many months affected public confidence in the country's democratic institutions? How have populist forces and the establishment and military’s reaction to them shaped the race? Following the arrest and sentencing of populist former Prime Minister Imran Khan and the return of Nawaz Sharif, the three-time former head of government now apparently backed by the army, what are the electoral and future prospects of Pakistan's most important political forces? How will the revealed vulnerabilities of the country’s media landscape and abusive employment of its judicial system shape political developments going forward? What have the recent weeks and months revealed about the current nature of civil-military relations in Pakistan, and how could they influence its domestic policies as well as relations with key foreign partners, including the United States?
To answer these and other related questions, MEI has convened a panel of eminent analysts of Pakistan's political scene. Please join us for what promises to be a vibrant and insightful discussion of what to expect on election day and where the country is headed.
Fellow of Foreign Policy, Brookings
Director, South Asia Institute, Wilson Center
Syed Mohammad Ali
Non-Resident Scholar, Afghanistan and Pakistan Program, Middle East Institute
Director, South Asia Program, U.S. Institute of Peace
Marvin Weinbaum (moderator)
Director, Afghanistan and Pakistan Program, Middle East Institute
(Photo by ARIF ALI/AFP via Getty Images)