The official results of the Pakistan elections are announced: The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) with the bound-to-be Prime Minister and cricket star Ismar Khan has won the elections. The PTI has subsequently broken the decade-old duopoly held by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Yet, despite becoming the largest party with 115 seats in the National Assembly, it misses winning the majority of 137 seats – an outcome benefiting the decade-old military reign.
The PTI will most certainly become the next government of Pakistan despite its shortage of seats. Negotiations with smaller, independent parties have already begun, and Prime-Minister-to-be Ismar Khan has already charmed party members to vouch for him.
Ismar Khan is famous for being the national cricket team’s captain and his charismatic character. Furthermore, for more than 20 has Khan stayed in the spotlight – serving as an aspirant for the previous Prime Minister.
However, he has also shown to be a conservative populist who could mean a surge for anti-Western sentiment. For instance, relations with the United States of America, which has been pushing Pakistan to take actions against the militant Islamist at the border to Afghanistan, could weaken and follow more US economic sanctions – pushing the country further into the abyss of receding development. Yet, the victory of the PTI and Khan was not only possible due to the cricket player’s charm or his popularity. Both were heavily backed by Pakistan’s military.
Traditionally, the military has been playing a significant role when it comes to governmental decisions. In fact, it has indirectly ruled and influenced political decisions and elections for almost 70 years. This election was no different.
Before the election, several of PTI’s leader and Khan’s opponents, such as leaders from the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), have been disqualified or imprisoned in the preceding of the elections. Furthermore, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court on a vague charge that he was dishonest and unreliable; a “soft coup” so to speak.
Thus, the PTI winning the elections and Khan becoming PM, the country has now a weak, minority government and a pliable Prime Minister who are easy to control. It comes therefore as no surprise that the previous ruling parties such as the PML-N underperformed and lost votes in country areas where they used to win.
On the other hand, it has been difficult to report the election. Election centres had been heavily guarded. The government deployed 400,000 military personals protecting the voting centres across the country, and media were barred from entering. Journalists and reporters were solely given limited access and security while officials did not allow media coverage of the voting process inside the poll stations.
Plus, despite all the amid security, the 105.96 million people who were eligible to cast their vote also had to persevere through great unrest. During the elections, a suicide blast in the western city of Quetta killed at least 25 people and injured 20 – solely after a nearby voting centre opened its gates. Furthermore, the elections were hit by an alleged software meltdown – delaying the announcement of the election results.
Consequently, almost all competing Pakistani parties have contested the result – calling it a military fraud. Yet, Khan who has been dependent upon military support for his political survival will unlikely challenge the military’s influence in Pakistan’s government. Instead, the military will have more control over Pakistan’s national and foreign policy in the near coming future.