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Daily News Analysis

Imran Khan’s PTI Sweeps Polls in Pakistan

Crescent International

Thursday July 26, 2018

Initial results of the July 25 elections show that Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) led by cricket-hero-turned-politician seems to have swept the polls.

Promising to end corruption, people took him at his word hoping for change from the two other parties—Pakistan Muslim League-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). Imran Khan’s promise to create a ‘new Pakistan’ resonated with voters.

According to unofficial results so far, PTI has won or is leading in 114 constituencies across the country. Its nearest rival, Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) is second with approximately 63 seats while Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) is leading in 40 seats. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) has been reduced to single digits.

There are a host of one-man parties, political alliances and even independent candidates contesting 272 seats in the National Assembly. There are 95 political parties and more than 11,000 candidates contesting the 2018 elections.

Based on the 272 National Assembly seats, 137 seats are needed to form the government at the centre. Commentators are of the view that PTI together with allied parties would be able to garner about 143 seats in the National Assembly thus securing a comfortable majority.

There are 70 seats reserved for women that are distributed according to the percentage of votes each party secures in the National Assembly. Thus, PTI would get a significant number of the reserved women’s seats as well.

The results so far are unofficial since the Election Commission was unable to make announcements on time because of a technical glitch in the electronic counting system. This led to allegations from the losers that elections have been rigged.

Shahbaz Sharif, leader of the PML-N, whose party has been swept from power (it was the governing party until the elections were called) announced even before official results were announced that his party would not accept them.

PML-N’s former leader Nawaz Sharif and three-time prime minister was convicted of massive corruption and siphoning billions of dollars out of the country. He is currently serving an 11-year jail sentence together with his daughter Maryam Nawaz (serving a 7-year term) in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi.

A number of parties including PML-N and Muttahida Majlis-e Amal (MMA), a grouping of several religious parties, have also announced rejection of the election results.

Another interesting factor that emerged in these elections was that many leaders of political parties or long-dominant political actors were knocked from their pedestals when the PTI tsunami swept the country.

At the provincial level, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where PTI had formed the previous government, it swept the province again.

In the largest province Punjab, where PML-N had held sway for several decades, the PTI launched a tough challenge to PML-N grip on the province.

For the 297 Punjab Assembly seats, PML-N was leading in 129 constituencies while PTI was leading in 124. With 33 independent candidates, it is possible PTI might knock PML-N from power even in Punjab.

In Sindh province, the Peoples Party seems to be leading with PTI a close second. In Baluchistan, the largest province in terms of area but sparsely populated, there is a mixed bag with Baluch parties holding sway.

Observers are already calling Imran Khan as the next prime minister of Pakistan. He will address his party workers at 2 pm (Pakistan time) on Thursday July 26.

Imran Khan has promised to end corruption and usher in a new Pakistan.

He managed to motivate a lot of people including the youth, women and even the Pakistani middle class to come out and vote. The middle class has traditionally sat out elections, preferring to indulge in politics in their air-conditioned palatial homes.

It is yet to be seen how successful Imran Khan would be in solving the myriad problems facing Pakistan but he has clearly energized a lot of people.

Pakistan’s arch-rival India has already started attacking him since Imran Khan had said he would confront India because of its enmity toward Pakistan.

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