From Cricketer to Prime Minister? 🤔

Akhtar Soomro / Reuters

Akhtar Soomro / Reuters

Update (7/26/18): Imran Khan of the PTI party will be Pakistan's next Prime Minister, after a particularly heated election marred by violence and claims of poll rigging. 

Pakistan's contested election

Today, Pakistan will hold general elections which will ultimately decide the next prime minister, shifting from one civilian government to another for only the second time in the country’s history. The election follows this month's conviction of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on anti-corruption charges. The election is expected to be a close race between former World Cup cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and the former PM’s brother Shehbaz Sharif.

Who is Imran Khan?

Imran Khan is a part of Pakistan’s PTI party - a center party with populist views. Khan and his PTI party have come under scrutiny for the Pakistani military’s systematic targeting of Sharif’s PML-N party members, raising suspicions of a rigged election in Khan’s favor. Pakistan has seen its most violent election yet due to a politically-motivated military presence that has suppressed the media and threatened candidates.

Those who see Khan as an apparatus of Pakistan’s military are pessimistic about change coming to the nation. They see the election and Pakistan’s potential for democracy as a farce; they resent the military for keeping citizens in a vicious cycle of military rule. They specifically point to Khan’s inexperience with government as an indication that he is ill-prepared and more susceptible to military influence. Articles from this side also condemn the military as a threat to human rights, particularly free speech.

Those who believe in Khan’s candidacy focus on his platform over military interference. They praise his commitment to eradicating Pakistan’s corruption, particularly portraying Khan as the antithesis to the elitist Sharif family. Articles from this side view Khan as diplomatic yet a firm nationalist. They commend Khan’s morals and his efforts to bring Pakistan’s issues to an international scope. They point to his connection with the youth, who comprise the majority of Pakistan’s population, as an indication that Khan represents progressive change.

Why is this election important?

Pakistan is the 5th most populous country in the world (pop. 212 million) and is armed with nuclear warheads. Maintaining a diplomatic relationship with the nation is crucial for the US.  However, Khan’s views prove to be the opposite of those of US President Trump’s. Khan’s anti-American rhetoric, support of Iran and alleged connections to the Taliban are all points of contention for US President Donald Trump and may further stress the US-Pakistan relationship.




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