Pakistani opposition leader arrested on corruption as parliamentary and regional by-elections begin

Pakistani opposition leader arrested on corruption as parliamentary and regional by-elections begin

Today Pakistan will hold parliamentary by-elections for 11 parliamentary seats and 19 regional assembly seats. The results of these elections

Shehbaz Sharif, brother of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and leader of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) leaves after attending the oath taking ceremony of the newly elected members of the National Assembly (Lower House of Parliament) at the Parliam

Photo: Reuters/Faisal Mahmood

Today Pakistan will hold parliamentary by-elections for 11 parliamentary seats and 19 regional assembly seats. The results of these elections are expected to challenge the slim governing majority of Imran Khan’s government.

The elections also come as the leader of the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League, Shehbaz Sharif, has been arrested on corruption charges. The charges have reopened criticism towards Khan’s government, who placed Sharif under arrest before general elections in July under similar allegations in an effort to stifle the opposition. The crackdown on the opposition raises concerns that Khan is using similar tactics as his popularity slips due to a deteriorating economic outlook as well as the government’s request for IMF assistance this week.

While many of the seats in today’s election are considered to be popular strongholds for Khan’s ruling PTI party, the region of Punjab is seen as marginal and could fall to the opposition. Additionally, the provincial assembly seats are also expected to be more closely contested. As a result, expect Khan and the PTI to retain their slim majority, but face challenges to their popularity at the national regional level as they prepare a package of tough economic reforms.

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