Imran’s party ahead in Pak polls: Is army ‘script going’ wrong?

It was said to be the “mother of all selections”. The ‘

establishment

‘, read Pakistan army, had planned it all to select the new prime minister. Former Pakistan PM

Imran Khan

has been kept in jail for many months now. He has been sentenced thrice, with almost over 20 years in jail, in just one week before the elections. Another former PM,

Nawaz Sharif

, ended his self-imposed exile, and came back to Pakistan well in time for national elections.

Pakistan Election Results Live Blog
The ‘establishment’ ensured that neither Imran Khan nor his party, Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), could easily campaign or contest in the elections. Khan has been barred from running in the elections, effectively sidelined from the political ‘field.’ The Election Commission of Pakistan also stripped

PTI

of its traditional ‘bat’ symbol, forcing its candidates to run as independents. Despite these challenges, Khan attempted to campaign from jail using AI and social media, though his efforts were often thwarted by internet outages during his speeches.
In essence, the establishment stacked the deck against Imran Khan and PTI, controlling the ‘pitch,’ ‘umpire,’ and ‘playing conditions.’ However, the outcome of elections is unpredictable, and early trends suggest that the Pakistani electorate might defy the army’s script.

Despite these maneuvers, the ‘establishment’ is likely to influence the selection of the next Pakistani PM. The loyalty of independents, who may align with the ‘preferred’ candidate under various pressures, remains uncertain.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was anticipated to dominate Thursday’s election, buoyed by the military’s support for its 74-year-old founder, Nawaz Sharif. Yet, initial reports suggest the party’s performance fell short of expectations.

Early Friday results from Pakistan’s general election indicated a close contest between Khan’s PTI and Sharif’s PML-N, marred by delays attributed to technical issues. Amid economic and security challenges, Pakistan’s political landscape remains deeply divided.

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Zafar Iqbal, a senior Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) official, cited an “internet issue” for the delays, though specifics were lacking. The vote count was further complicated by a government-imposed mobile service blackout on Thursday, purportedly for security reasons, with only partial service restoration later on.
By early Friday, the ECP reported results for 12 of the 265 parliamentary seats. Independents allied with Imran Khan won five seats, while Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N secured four. The Pakistan Peoples Party, led by

Bilawal Bhutto

Zardari, son of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, won three seats.

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The election is seen as a face-off between Khan’s supporters and the PML-N, with the latter reportedly backed by the military. Despite the challenges, the final outcome remains to be seen, with no party expected to secure a clear majority.
Sharif dismissed the notion of a coalition government, emphasizing the importance of a decisive majority. “It is very important for a government to get a clear majority… It should not be relying on others,” he remarked after casting his vote in Lahore.
(With inputs from agencies)

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