The BGA Pakistan Team, led by Senior Advisor Aniq Zafar, wrote an update to clients on the upcoming general elections in Pakistan.


  • Pakistan will hold its general elections on February 8, to usher in a new federal government and four new provincial governments. In the lead-up to the elections, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are competing to form the federal government. Former Prime Minister Imran Khan remains imprisoned, convicted and sentenced to prison in two separate cases related to corruption and revealing state secrets, just days before the election.
  • Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI) will contest the elections without Khan and will field its candidates as independants due to a controversial ruling by Pakistan’s Supreme Court stripping the party of its electoral symbol. Meanwhile, Sharif returned to Pakistan after four years of self-imposed exile and the courts have overturned his previous corruption convictions, paving the way for him to contest the elections. Given this backdrop, there has been growing perception that Nawaz Sharif is backed by the military establishment, casting a dark shadow over the prospects of free and fair elections.


  • Although Khan will not contest the elections, he remains a potent force in the political domain due to his widespread popularity and anti-establishment rhetoric. Khan has claimed that the allegations against him are politically motivated and a means for the powerful military establishment to keep him out of power. Pakistan’s human rights commission has said that there is little chance of free and fair parliamentary elections due to “pre-poll rigging” including the rejection of the candidacies of Khan and his senior party leadership.
  • Most analysts believe the PTI continues to enjoy significant popularity among voters but may not perform well in the elections due the establishment’s perceived interference. The leadership of Khan’s PTI faced a severe but not unprecedented crackdown by the state institutions, since its removal from power in 2022, which included widespread arrests and rejection of nomination papers from PTI candidates often on minor technical grounds. There is a general perception that the timing of Sharif’s return along with favorable court rulings to clear his path to contest elections are due to the support he is receiving from the country’s military establishment.


  • Mainstream political parties, PMLN and PPP are likely to fiercely compete to form alliances with smaller parties and independent candidates in an effort to form the government in the political center. In Pakistan, any single party rarely wins enough seats to form a majority government by itself and often coalition governments are the norm. Currently, there are a total of 336 seats in the National Assembly, of which 266 are filled by direct elections, 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 are reserved for non-Muslims. Some 169 seats are needed for a majority in the National Assembly and to form the government.
  • The domestic security landscape of Pakistan remains fragile with increased attacks in recent months, primarily the surge of terrorism in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. Militant attacks attributed to groups such as Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP), Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP) and other Baloch separatist groups, pose a significant security risk as the country heads into the polls. On the foreign policy front, Pakistan and Iran faced a sudden escalation of tensions in their border regions recently, however the confrontation was limited, and both countries immediately opened dialogue to de-escalate the situation.

BGA will continue to keep you updated on developments in Pakistan as they occur. If you have any questions or comments, please contact BGA Pakistan Senior Advisor Aniq Zafar at