Pakistani Election Results
The July 25th elections in Pakistan were hotly contested mainly between two parties: the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). The PML-N was led by Shahbaz Sharif, younger brother of former prime-minister Nawaz Sharif. The former prime minister was removed from his post by the Supreme Court on charges of corruption that were exposed by the 2016 Panama Papers. On July 13th, Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam, were arrested in Lahore for such charges. Imran Khan, former captain of the Pakistan national cricket team and current leader of the PTI, capitalized on these corruption charges throughout the campaign, arguing that his party would work hard to eliminate such corruption from the government. However, Imran Khan was not considered to be innocent in the minds of the people either. His close ties with the military led to suspicion around the fairness of the elections. The military has always held power over the civilian government and has even orchestrated numerous coups and periods under military rule. Pakistan has only ever had two governments successfully complete their five year terms without a military intervention. With the military having such a heavy hand in the elections, many wondered whether the results would be truly accurate and fair.
Apart from potential corruption, the elections have unfortunately faced acts of violence. In Quetta, the Islamic State carried out a suicide attack near a polling station that left at least 31 people dead. The firing of weapons and the throwing of grenades has also occurred in some locations across the country, although this has only happened on small scale. There has also been an attempt on a police vehicle that wounded 40 people.
Although the results took longer than expected to come in due to “technical issues” claimed by the Electoral Commission of Pakistan, Imran Khan’s PTI party seems to have won. The results however have not been widely accepted. Many accuse the military of rigging the election in favor of him. The PML-N has declared that it will not accept the results and will demand a recount. The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has declared that it too does not fully accept the results claiming that some districts’ votes may have been miscounted.
Imran Khan has stated that he will work with all parties, calling for an investigation to make sure that his government was elected fairly. He claimed that the election was the most transparent in the history of Pakistan and that the showing of such large numbers of people was a great accomplishment for the country. What this election means for US-Pakistan relations is yet to be seen, but Imran Khan has expressed anti-American and anti-NATO views, foreshadowing a potential further degradation of the relationship between the two nations. Hopefully, Donald Trump and Imran Khan will one day be able to find some common ground and keep this strategic relationship intact and healthy.
By Ethan Concannon