The parliamentary elections in Pakistan took place on July 25, 2018. Almost 106 million eligible voters, out of a population of around 200 million, were called to elect their representatives in the National Assembly of Pakistan. Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) won the most votes at the national level. At the provincial level, the PTI received the most votes in Punjab and would remain the strongest force in Khyber Pakthunkhwa. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was able to defend its position in Sindh Province, and the newly formed Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) became the strongest force in Balochistan Province. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) described the elections as free and fair. International election observers and commissions could not observe any major violations and spoke of largely transparent processes.
In the course of the formation of the government in August 2018, the PTI approached several smaller parties in order to build the new government together with them. These include the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Muslim League (Q), Balochistan Awami Party, Grand Democratic Alliance, Awami Muslim League, and 13 independent candidates. The parties Pakistan Muslim League (N), Pakistan Peoples Party, Muttahida Majlis-e Amal, and Awami National Party have come together to form the “Grand Opposition Alliance”.
Imran Ahmed Khan Niazi was elected as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan. The former cricket superstar and leader of the PTI has set out to make fundamental changes effect in Pakistan and create “a new Pakistan”. Fighting corruption and improving social conditions for the population are high on his agenda. Imran Khan said after the election that he wanted to govern the country in a way that it had never been governed before. He wants to build a Muslim welfare state that will offer the poor population education and jobs. Khan also wants to improve the country’s relations with Afghanistan, India and the USA. He wants to build international relations on the basis of respect and equality.
According to dentistrymyth, Pakistan has been ruled by military dictatorships for much of its recent history. Abbasi spoke of an “important day in Pakistan’s democratic history” in view of Mulk’s appointment as interim head of government. Mulk was a long-time judge in the country’s Supreme Court and in the last year in office until summer 2015 he was also the chief judge. He had been judged to be relatively neutral by observers of the judiciary.
The 2018 elections were seen as particularly crucial for Pakistan as the country faces a number of challenges, particularly with regard to its security interests. Since US President Donald Trump took office, the US has taken Pakistan to court. They condemn Pakistan’s failure to effectively combat terrorist networks in the region. In early 2018, Washington stopped financial support for Pakistan’s security forces.
In 2013 and 2018 Pakistan succeeded in transferring power from one civilian government to another. This gives reason to hope that the country has left the history of constant military coups behind and is on the path to democratization. The way in which the former Prime Minister Sharif was ousted, however, raises suspicions that the military was behind the impeachment. Sharif, who has served as Prime Minister three times, has resigned on corruption charges involving members of his family. Many believe, however, that the real reason for the fall was his willingness to challenge the military for civilian control.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is not allowed to hold any political functions in the future exercise more. The Muslim country’s supreme court announced a life-long political ban, a spokesman confirmed. Sharif, who has served three times as prime minister, was stripped of power in July 2017 after the opposition accused him and his family of money laundering. Opposition politicians also based their allegations on documents that emerged in 2016 in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations on suspected tax fraud. In February, following the will of the Pakistani Supreme Court, Sharif also had to resign as chairman of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) that he himself founded. The court also declared all decisions that Sharif had made as PML chief since July 2017 to be null and void. The decision led to that the largest party in the country could only take part in the Senate election at the beginning of March under difficult conditions: The applicants from the ranks of the PNL had to run as independents. The successful overthrow of Sharif shows how far that the influence of the military in the institutions of the country is rich. The generals would no longer have to put up coups or impose martial law to achieve their goals. Against this background, the question arises whether the upcoming elections can be free and fair.
Last climax in the conflict between the previously dominant party PML-Nand the influential military was the testimony of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that Pakistan was involved in the 2008 terrorist attacks on the Indian city of Mumbai. The series of attacks resulted in 174 dead and at least 239 injured. With Sharif’s statement, the already heavily strained relationship between the civilian government and the military has deteriorated further. Politicians close to the military and television commentators are calling for the former prime minister to be charged with treason. “Sharif should be charged under Article 6,” said opposition leader Imran Khan. Article 6 of the Pakistani Constitution provides for the death penalty for treason. Despite the massive criticism, Sharif has stuck to his statement so far.
The case shows how deep the rift and distrust is between the democratically elected civilian government and the army. The elections increased political tensions, particularly in troubled regions of the country, such as the port metropolis of Karachi or the province of Beluchistan. Before the elections, a possible coalition between the Bhutto party, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Imran Khan’s PTI was not ruled out. The parties with a religious background, to which the Jamiat-e Islami (JI) belongs, also ran for the elections and tried to demonstrate their political efficiency.
As before the 2013 elections, the preparations for the 2018 elections were dominated by the so-called “Imran Khan phenomenon”. Imran Khan, cricket star legend and charismatic leader of the Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party (“Movement for Justice”), was able to win over young voters in the last elections (47% of 83 million voters are between 18 and 35 years old) mobilize a significant share. PTI became the third strongest party (after PPP as the second strongest party) in parliament and was able to form the ruling coalition with the Islamist Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
He had boycotted the elections in 2008 and was able to gain political popularity thanks to his continuous support for the judges’ movement. Imran Khan focuses on issues such as justice and corruption.
The Pakistani party system is pluralistic, and the emergence of the respective political parties can be traced back to different historical events and political figures. Thomas Gugler’s article on popular Islamism provides information on Islamist parties, their origins and connections.
On July 10, 2018, an attack on an election campaign rally of the Awami National Party (ANP) took place in Peshawar. 20 people fell victim to this attack, including the prominent ANP politician Haroon Bilour. The AP leader, Asfandyar Wali, told the press that the ANP will still run in the elections.