Shocking opposition victory throws Pakistan into chaos

Shocking opposition victory throws Pakistan into chaos

The New York Times reports:

The party of the imprisoned former prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, won the most seats in parliamentary elections this week, delivering a strong rebuke to the country’s powerful generals and throwing the political system into chaos.

While military leaders had hoped the election would put an end to the political turmoil that has consumed the country since Mr. Khan’s ouster in 2022, it has instead plunged it into an even deeper crisis, analysts said.

Never before in the country’s history has a politician seen such success in an election without the backing of the generals — much less after facing their iron fist.

In voting on Thursday, candidates from Mr. Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or P.T.I., appeared to win about 97 seats in the National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, the country’s election commission reported on Saturday. The military’s preferred party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or P.M.L.N., led by a three-time former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, won at least 73 seats, the commission said. Only seven seats were left unaccounted for — not enough to change the outcome as reported by the commission.

While candidates aligned with Mr. Khan were set to be the largest group in Parliament, they still fell short of a simple majority — setting off a race between the parties of Mr. Khan and Mr. Sharif to win over other lawmakers and establish a coalition government.

Leaders of Mr. Khan’s party also said they planned court challenges in dozens of races that they believe were rigged by the military, and said they would urge their followers to hold peaceful protests if the remaining results were not released by Sunday.

The success of Mr. Khan’s party was a head-spinning upset in an election that the military thought would be an easy victory for Mr. Sharif. Ahead of last week’s election, Pakistan’s powerful generals had jailed Mr. Khan, arrested candidates allied with him and intimidated his supporters to clear his party from the playing field — or so they thought. Instead, the election results confirmed that Mr. Khan remains a formidable force in Pakistani politics, despite his ouster and subsequent imprisonment. [Continue reading…]

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