The former cricket player, Imran Khan declared victory yesterday in Pakistan’s election, which has been marred by both violence and claims of election rigging.
On the day of the election a suicide bomber killed 31 people at a polling station. The human rights commission had previously warned of “blatant, aggressive and unabashed attempts to manipulate” the outcome of the election.
Opponents of Mr Khan have seized upon this and maintain that this electoral victory is illegitimate.They maintain that he had won the “general’s selection” not the general election, referring to what they describe as the overwhelming support he had from the Pakistan military. The military had deployed 371,000 soldiers to polling stations across the country, nearly five times the number as in last election in 2013. Mr Khan denies these accusations and claims to welcome enquiries into the election.
Khan campaign positioned him as a populist. Pointing to the corruption scandals of Nawaz Sharif, who was found to have stolen millions from the public’s finance to buy expensive property in London under the names of his children, Mr Khan said he would be willing to take action on the rampant corruption and poverty within Pakistan.
However critics of Mr Khan and human rights activists have expressed concern over his alignment with the country’s fiercely conservative religious leaders and Mr Khan’s expressed sympathy for strict Islamic law, “including hand amputations for thieves”.
Pakistan continues to be racked with extreme poverty having one of the highest infant mortality rates. Its electricity grid is crumbling and it holds a burgeoning amount of debt, largely to China.
Pakistan stands at a cross-roads and whether Khan is able to deliver on his promise of a new Pakistan remains to be seen.