IMRAN KHAN AND HIS STRIVE FOR POWER
Written for JESPIONNE
Summers in Pakistan are hot, but this one will be even more so as the election day of July 25th is approaching. Ever since the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party was ousted by the country’s Supreme Court on corruption charges almost a year ago, the maestro of the anti-corruption campaign himself has been stealing the spotlight.
A cricketer-turned-politician and the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, Imran Khan vowed to bring radical change to the country’s political landscape favouring the poor at a campaign kick-off rally. A self-positioned outsider Khan has been riding the wave of populism throughout his career promising to build schools, hospitals, as well as 5 million homes for the poor, which would create more jobs. Perhaps, his time has finally come?
Iam standing with you, it is time of make new Pakistan.
No one seems to rush with the answer. According to the Islamabad-based Free and Fair Election Network, Khan was able to win over politicians’ loyalty. The media have always been generous with attention to the PTI leader. But…the deal is that you can’t really win Pakistan’s elections unless you win over Punjab which is about half the population of the country. And only in February the PTI lost by-elections there. Yes, in Pakistan the ruling party always wins the by-elections (even when its leader is out), yet the issue is present and pressing for Khan, as Punjab has been a major electoral force for PML-N which is still leading the polls by 12%.
“No matter what’s being thrown at it, the PML-N still stands a fair chance of re-election,” said Michael Kugelman, a leading specialist on Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan at the Wilson Center. Khan’s PTI “remains a one-issue party fixated on corruption -- an issue that many Pakistanis don’t view as a top concern.” On top of that, “to investors, Khan represents an untested force in a country dominated by the dynasties of two parties -- Sharif’s PML-N and the Pakistan People’s Party” Khan’s pledges to tear down corruption and withdraw all agreements obviously left investors unsettled.
Punjab is not the only hot spot here, however. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) was the only province where the PTI was able to secure enough support in the 2013 elections. The region most hit by the war on terror where 70% of the industry closed down leaving the province practically devastated didn’t see much of the wonders Khan promised for his supporters and “the new Pakistan.”
The gap between rich and poor is growing further, as Khan been continually pointing out in his campaign, and the current environment of political intrigues and alleged interventions by the military to manipulate the electoral process seems to be only exacerbating the problem.
As for now, July is just around the corner, and we all better be ready for it. I urge all young Pakistani citizens to go and cast their vote because civic participation does matter. It is not a time for ignorance at such an important time when the world is building walls and closing borders. It is not a time to stay silent when the majority of women in Pakistan do not have a voice to oppose the unfair voting and political systems in place. A few years ago, Pakistan Institute of
Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT), a think tank which promotes democracy, launched the Youth Parliament project through which young people can make their voices heard. UN Women Pakistan works towards improving gender equality and women empowerment issuing publications and holding various awareness campaigns. Please utilize these sources striving for more knowledge. Be curious. Be engaged.
By DRAZEN JORGIC and MUBASHER BUKHARI for U.S. News
LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) - Pakistani opposition figure Imran Khan on Sunday vowed to sweep to power in upcoming elections, promising radical change for the poor at a campaign kick-off rally in the city of Lahore that has long been the power base of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif. With the red-brick minarets of Lahore's Mughal-era Badshahi mosque in sight, Khan outlined a populist 11-point plan to usher in a new era of prosperity that he envisages for Pakistan after the general election at which he hopes to become prime minister. "Today we are at crossroads," said Khan, a former cricketing hero and founder of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. "It is time to change our destiny and think big." Khan told a boisterous crowd of about 100,000 people that Pakistan was "heading towards destruction" but his plan would help forge a fairer society and steer Pakistan towards a path first envisaged by the nation's father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Khan said that if elected he would build schools and "world class hospitals" across the country, while farmers would get cheap loans. He also pledged to build 5 million homes for the poor, which would create jobs and stimulate the economy. After spending much of his post-cricket political career on the fringes, Khan has in recent years emerged as a key challenger to Sharif, a three-time prime minister who was ousted by the Supreme Court last year but whose party retains power.
Sharif's legal woes, which the veteran leader says are politically motivated, could further boost Khan in the run up to the elections as an anti-corruption court is due to soon deliver a verdict on another Sharif trial. Khan has predicted Sharif will be jailed before the polls, likely in July. Khan, who has sought to shed his playboy image of the past, is betting that his anti-corruption message, coupled with anti-America rhetoric and a projecting image of pious devotion, will propel him into power in the deeply conservative Muslim nation of 208 million people. In Lahore, Khan's message resonated with many of the bandana-wearing young men waving PTI's green and red-color flags. "Imran Khan has given us the slogan of 'New Pakistan' and that's what we want," said Shahzad Khan, 17, in reference to the "Naya Pakistan" slogan used by PTI. Sharif has accused Khan of being a puppet of the powerful military establishment that has a history of meddling in Pakistani politics. Khan denies colluding with the army and the military denies interfering in modern-day politics.READ MORE >>
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