By Prarthana Mitra
BREAKING: Cricket star turned politician Imran Khan declares victory in Pakistan's historic elections, promises a 'new' Pakistan
— The Associated Press (@AP) July 26, 2018
A commanding lead for the PTI, even before half the votes had been counted, confirmed what the exit polls and local media stations had already predicted. As margins between the cricketer-turned-politician and his opponents widened, celebrations for the new Prime Minister began even before the rivals conceded or Pakistan’s election commission made an official statement about the outcome of the race.
With at least 119 confirmed seats out of 270 contested in PTI’s bank, Khan surged ahead of PPP’s Bilawal Bhutto and PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif. However, as the first day of poll-counting ended amidst controversies, it was unclear whether they enjoyed single party majority (137 seats) or would form a coalition government.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf has taken a landslide lead in the General Elections of Pakistan.
— PTI (@PTIofficial) July 25, 2018
Incumbent party PML-N rejected the results before mid-day, in the wake of allegations of fraud, poll-rigging in the erstwhile Fata regions, and the unavailability of Form 45—a document which lists the details and votes received by each candidate.
Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) wholly rejects the results of General Elections 2018 due to manifest & massive irregularities. Form 45 was not given to our agents, results were stopped & votes were counted in the absence of our poll agents. This is both unbearable & unacceptable!
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) July 25, 2018
Here’s what you need to know as Pakistan enters into a new era
With the coveted seat only a bat’s swing away, Imran Khan promised a new Pakistan, one presumably less inclined to cower before American counterterrorism policies.
In his televised address to the nation, Khan outlined his main course of action, saying he would rally against administrative corruption, improve Pak-China relations, and seek a “more balanced relationship” with the US. He also voiced his reluctance to reside in the lavish PM’s house over the next five years, in keeping with his election promise to protect taxpayers’ money.
Imran Khan claims victory in Pakistan's general elections pic.twitter.com/GjegsCvOqb
— TRT World (@trtworld) July 26, 2018
Beaming, he added, “thanks to God, we won and we were successful”. ”We will run the country in a way it’s never been run before,” said Pakistan’s new premier.
Key takeaways from PM in waiting Imran Khan: 1. Measured speech 2. No political victimisation 3. Help opposition investigate rigging claims 4. Will convert PM House into ed institution 5. Desires open border with Afg, mutually beneficial relationship with US, talks on Kashmir
— Amber Rahim Shamsi (@AmberRShamsi) July 26, 2018
With Imran Khan assuming office as the nation’s 19th Prime Minister, Pakistan’s political history has certainly undergone a radical departure and this hasn’t happened overnight. For a politically and religiously conservative country dominated for decades by the wealthy Bhutto and Sharif family dynasties, this screams a mass demand for a change.
Despite his populist and conspiratorial politics, Khan now has the reigns to strengthen relations with China, Iran, and India. In his victory speech, he said, “If the leadership of India is ready, we are also ready to improve the relations. If you take one step toward us, we will take two steps toward you.”
Notwithstanding the violence and poll-tampering, this election will go down as a massive exercise in democracy in Pakistan’s history. With a coalition with the religious extremist parties, and the country’s military breathing down the shoulder, however, people’s hope for a new era maybe dashed. Although many would say it was never a real possibility to begin with.
Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius
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