Our next door neighbor, Pakistan is all set to vote in their next Prime Minister. The country will choose the next government on 25th July, tomorrow. The highly pitched battle sees clear favorites Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by former cricketer Imran Khan and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) competing against one another. Just last week, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been imprisoned and as per recent reports, is sick with emergency levels of blood sugar levels.
Pakistan People’s Party, led by Bilawal Bhutto, son of slain PM Benazir Bhutto is lagging behind and is expected to finish 3rd. According to opinion polls, Pakistan Muslim League (PML) is leading and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) placed second. The polls will take place under increasing fears that the powerful military establishment is now controlling the judiciary too as a judge recently claimed that Nawaz Sharif was imprisoned under the influence of their spy agency, ISI.
The last elections were held in 2013 and won by the currently imprisoned Nawaz Sharif. He won 166 seats out of a total of 342 parliamentary seats which was not a simple majority but with the support of allies and independents, he ran a government for more than four years before being convicted by the Supreme Court on corruption charges.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf under Imran Khan has gained inroads among the country’s electorate though Khan’s image has gone for a serious toss after the sensational book by his second wife, Reham Khan. They are predicted to finish second. PTI won only 35 seats in 2013.
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The entire political scene has changed after Nawaz Sharif’s shock announcement of returning to Pakistan, despite the imminent arrest. He has denied all accusations of fraudulent financial transactions in Panama Paper scandal. The scandal leads Imran Khan filing a petition in the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 29th August 2017 seeking Sharif’s disqualification. On July 28th, last year, Sharif was disqualified as Prime Minister and as a member of the National Assembly.
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi from the PML replaced Sharif after the allegations. PML is now led by Sharif’s brother, Shahbaz Sharif who is Punjab’s, Chief Minister.
There are three important issues which Pakistanis hope the next government solves. One is the rampant corruption in the system. Terrorism killing tens daily is the biggest cancer which the Pakistani society aches from. And last but not the least, economic stability of the country. There is a growing speculation that Pakistan will seek a loan package from the International Monetary Fund following the elections for the second time since 2013 due to an immediate balance inflow of payment crisis.