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Pakistan heading towards a hung Parliament; Imram Khan favourite to become PM

By Vinod

New Delhi, July 7: On July 25, 2018 Pakistan is going for polls to elect the new government but with the court ruling against the Pakistan Muslim League leader Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Mariam Sharief for 10 and seven years in jail term respectively, elections in Pakistan are getting murkier.

Imran Khan

However, Pakistan Insaf-e-Tahrik appears to be inching towards the position of forming the government with being favourites of the Army and judiciary of Pakistan. The 14th National Assembly of Pakistan dissolved on May 31, 2018 after completing its 5 year term.

Sources keeping a close watch on Pakistan in India said that much-hyped issue of Panama paper leak that forced the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif to resign from the post but he was also barred from contesting any elections even holding party post.

Of the three important players in Pakistan, contest among Pakistan Peoples' Party (PPP) led by Asif Ali Zardar, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led by former cricketer Imran Khan and Pakistan Muslim League (N) with its chief Nawaz Sharif has become neck and neck.

There are some fringe players that included international pronounced terrorist Hafiz Sayeed's political front Milli Muslim League (MML). Though it has not been recognized by the Pakistan Election Commission but its candidates are contesting elections as independent.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement led by Altaf Hussain is also in the fray and its splinter group too are looking for some political space like MQM-Haqiqi and Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP).

Sources said that with the democracy continuing for long (two consecutive terms) the Pakistani Army has become apprehensive. This was the reason that Nawaz Sharif was removed from the post as he started calling himself as his own man.

Sharif getting closure to India was also not suited Pakistan else PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari is a convicted by the court and had served sentence but he has been allowed to contest elections but Sharif was denied.

In a planned manner Pakistan media has also been barred from writing anything against Army and judiciary. So before any hue and cry was made it became a law and any organisation doing so will be punished. There is no international observation for these elections for Army having its own way with the tacit understanding with the judiciary.

Sources said that election proceedings are such that they want to benefit political outfit of Imran Khan even the sympathy for Sharif is ruled due to harsh sentancing. Khan has long been trying to cash in on sentiment of Pakistan people against India by making anti-India statements.

Observers say that statement made by PIT chief and his aggressive posturing against Modi suits the narrative that Army wants. Imran accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led NDA government in India of adopting "an aggressive anti-Pakistan posture". He said that the Indian government had adopted the policy because Prime Minister Modi wants to blame Pakistan "for all the barbarism they are doing in Kashmir".

However, ethnic linkages does not favour Khan except the support of the Army. Pakistan politics is largely dominated by Punjabies and Khan being a Pashtun might prove to be a hurdle to get support from the entire Pakistan.

Another source said that PML (N) might emerge single largest party, with either PIT or PPP securing the second or third position in 342-member Pakistan Assembly but won't be able to form the government.

Out of this 342 members, 270 are directly elected while 70 seats are reserved for women and religious minorities. PML (N) has 178 seats with the support of alies its streangth is 199, PPP has 46 seats and PTI 34. The PTI is expected to emerge as the biggest beneficiary.

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