Supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League march towards the airport to welcome ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, in Lahore, Pakistan, July 2018. 
Mohsin Raza / REUTERS

Pakistan’s upcoming general elections on July 25 may be the most tense and fraught in the country’s brief period of democracy, and there are lingering doubts about whether they will even be held on time. In Pakistan, the political establishment appears to be following the example of Turkey and Egypt, where those in power clamped down on the media and intimidated civil society just before holding a vote. Although the elections are being supervised by a neutral interim civilian government, the real power appears to rest with Pakistan’s military and the judiciary, which see undiluted democracy as a threat.


The crackdown by Pakistan’s army and judiciary has extended to civil society activists, bloggers, and human rights workers. But the primary target has been media outlets. Consider Dawn, Pakistan’s oldest and largest-circulation English-language newspaper, which has faced a spate of threats, bans, and severe censorship. As punishment

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