Pakistan Elections 2024: Islamabad is on the brink of its highly anticipated general elections scheduled for Thursday, February 8. The outcome of these elections holds significant weight as it determines the composition of the new government and offers a potential solution to the countrys enduring crisis for the next five years.Pakistan Elections 2024: Preparing for electionsAs a parliamentary democracy, Pakistan is gearing up for elections across its federal legislature and four state assemblies. A staggering total of 5,121 candidates from 44 political parties are contesting seats in the federal legislature, while 12,695 candidates are vying for positions in the state assemblies. Out of Pakistans 241 million population, 128 million eligible voters are anticipated to participate in the electoral process.Pakistan Elections 2024: Pre-polls developmentsThe journey towards the elections began when Pakistans president dissolved the National Assembly on August 9, 2023, setting the stage for the forthcoming general election. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharifs return to Pakistan on October 21, 2023, after four years of self-imposed exile, marked a pivotal moment. His convictions and sentences were overturned following an appeal, significantly impacting the political landscape.Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Imran Khans imprisonment in multiple criminal cases has rendered his return to power unlikely. The Election Commissions postponement of parliamentary elections to February 8, 2024, further intensified the political climate.Pakistan Elections 2024: Understanding electoral processOn election day, voters will select two representatives for their constituency - one for the federal legislature and the other for the provincial assembly. A total of 5,121 candidates are competing for seats in the federal legislature, with 12,695 candidates contending for provincial assembly seats. Unofficial results are expected on the same night, with official results likely announced by Election Commission officers the following day.The National Assembly consists of 336 seats, with 266 determined through direct voting. Additionally, 70 reserved seats are allocated based on party strength in the assembly. Successful candidates become members of the National Assembly, with independent candidates having the option to join any party post-election.Pakistan Elections 2024: Major contenders in the electoral raceThe political arena is primarily dominated by three key parties: the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).The PML-N, led by former Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif, is positioned as a formidable competitor. The PPP, led by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, holds a strong foothold in southern Pakistan and could potentially be part of a coalition government led by the PML-N.The absence of Imran Khan, founder of the PTI, due to legal challenges has reshaped the political landscape. His party alleges unfair treatment and faces hurdles in campaigning effectively.Pakistan Elections 2024: Anticipated election outcomeThe return of Nawaz Sharif and his exoneration have buoyed his popularity, leading many to anticipate his victory. However, concerns regarding a fair and transparent election persist, with rights groups cautioning against inflated expectations.The presence of international election observers underscores the global interest in Pakistans democratic process. Nevertheless, skepticism prevails amidst concerns of decreased voter participation and eroded electoral credibility.