Uncertainty, doubts, and skepticism are on the rise as Pakistan inches toward its July 25 parliamentary elections, the most controversial in the country’s democratic history thanks to recurring direct and indirect interference by the powerful military. There exists both hope and despair – hope of a third transfer of power from one elected government to another and despair because of the increasing role of the proverbial “invisible hand” that some observers and political analysts label as the “creeping coup.” Unlike the past, where the military used to pack elected governments through direct interference or pick and choose by acting behind the scenes, this time it is the top judiciary and the accountability department — the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) — standing in the front row and believed to be targeting some, while sparing others.
Allegations from the aggrieved parties seldom get due space and air time in the print and electronic media. This proverbial fourth pillar of the state, once aspired to be the harbinger of change in terms of spreading awareness among the Pakistanis regarding their basic human and constitutional rights, has reportedly come under severe pressure. Pakistan’s media sector is observing the worst kind of self-censorship.
Some leading newspapers and television channels complain their circulation and broadcasts are being interrupted and their workers harassed because they fail to toe the line of the country’s intelligence agencies regarding the coverage of particular parties, groups, and persons or issues. Desperate to get their message through, the aggrieved parties turn to social media.
One latest example is social media video of a candidate of the Pakistan Muslim League of former premier Nawaz Sharif, who complained that intelligence officials pressured him to withdraw his candidacy and contest the election in an independent capacity.
Full Article: Pakistan’s Bittersweet Election Season | The Diplomat.