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Imran Khan's rise to the top

Imran Khans rise to the top

Election results are pouring in from Pakistan and they suggest a political windfall for former cricket star Imran Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). As per the unofficial party position, PTI is leading in 116 seats, ruling PML-N in 63 seats and PPP in 38 seats. Pakistan's National Assembly has 342 seats out of which 272 are directly elected while 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 for religious minorities. By the trends so far, though PTI seems to be emerging as the single-largest party, it is likely to fall short of the majority mark. To form the government and fulfil his dream of becoming the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan will need the support of other parties, more notably of PPP. Though PML-N had expected the electoral mandate to be in its favour, the results show that the people have voted for a change in the regime. But, the opposition parties including the PML-N have rejected the poll results alleging that the elections have witnessed large-scale rigging and manipulation. In the vicious political environment of Pakistan, the military is a major player working from behind the scenes. The general feeling within Pakistan and outside is that in the rise of Imran Khan, who has been waging a relentless fight against PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif on the issue of corruption, the military has played a key role. Nawaz Sharif was earlier barred by the Supreme Court from holding any public office for life. Now, an accountability court has sentenced him and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, who was seen as his political heir, to 10 and seven years of imprisonment respectively. This has literally sealed the fate of their political career in the country. The overzealousness of the Pakistan judiciary in trying the Sharif family for their culpability in the Panama Papers case cannot be overlooked. After the military, the judiciary was seen as playing a partisan role in the country's political landscape. PML-N has fought the July 25 election under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif's brother and chief minister of Punjab province Shehbaz Sharif. The emergence of Imran Khan as the most important political face in Pakistan, however, is a welcome change for the country which has been battling a serious image crisis. Khan has been active in the country's politics for over two decades now and, in the last five years, he had intensified his fight against the Nawaz Sharif government. Of late, he was drawing a huge crowd of followers to his rallies, indicating the change that the people in Pakistan were yearning for. Imran Khan is not a stereotypical politician. Rather, he has an image of a never-say-die sportsman, who led the life of a playboy off the field. Born into a family of feudal lords, Imran has never faced the kind of poverty that is rampant in the country. His style of functioning, as evident from his cricketing days, is less democratic and more geared to creating proteges. He may not be hard working but he is certainly more tenacious than the average politician. As of now, he seems to be enjoying the support of the military and the judiciary whose impartiality is now being seriously questioned. But as the history of Pakistan is testimony, it will be difficult for him to keep them in good humour for long. Few of the many prime ministers of Pakistan have completed their term for falling apart with the powerful military. Nevertheless, the change in guard brings the much-needed freshness and relief from the stifling environment that the idea of Pakistan represents today. Imran, who has always garnered a liberal lifestyle and worldview, is expected to help the country's transition from an orthodox society to a progressive nation. He is expected to root out fundamentalism and terror camps from the country, allowing the coming generation to reap the benefits of liberalism and modern education. Though these are easier said than done, Imran has the tenacity of a sportsman and a reason for being in politics. His being at the helm of affairs will inspire the hopeless masses, especially the youth, to engage in fruitful pursuits rather than taking up the gun to solve their problems. As regards his approach to Pakistan-India relations, he is perhaps the best bet in Pakistan's arsenal to set the equations right between the two countries. He is fresh in politics and is expected to use his travels and contacts in India to shape his policies. At this juncture, when Pakistan is stuck in the quagmire of hopelessness and lawlessness, Imran has the opportunity to emerge as the true leader by bringing in a much-needed freshness in the approach towards politics in Pakistan.

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