Pakistan heads to the polls today for a milestone election—just the second time in the country’s 70-year history that power
Pakistan heads to the polls today for a milestone election—just the second time in the country’s 70-year history that power will shift between civilian governments.
Up for grabs are 272 seats in Pakistan’s 342-seat legislature, as well as the prime ministership. The frontrunners are Shehbaz Sharif of the governing Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and Imran Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Mr Sharif is the brother of former PM Nawaz Sharif, currently in prison on corruption charges, while Mr Khan is a popular former cricketer who has run on an anti-corruption and anti-establishment platform.
The race is expected to be extremely tight; a hung parliament is likely. If this occurs, Pakistan’s powerful military will emerge as powerbroker, likely shaping the next government. As Mr Khan appears to be the military’s candidate of choice—the PML-N have adopted an anti-military in recent years—the former cricketer is firming to be Pakistan’s next PM.
An Imran Khan-led Pakistan could be unwelcome news for the US. Indeed, Khan has been critical of the US’ role in Afghanistan, while a close relationship with the military could see tensions between Islamabad and Washington grow under his leadership.
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