Imran Khan’s ‘New Pakistan’

Imran Khan’s dream has finally been fulfilled 22 years in to his political career: a career that started with idealism and came to be marked by pragmatism. His real political career has just begun.

We all knew the outcome of these elections but what did surprise a lot of us was the way it was pulled off a few hours after polling ended on July 25. The results of the elections in Pakistan were pre-determined. But what happened before the final results were announced left many of us shocked at how the powers-that-be did not even want to hide how much they were influencing the results. Even in a country where manipulating elections is nothing new, this brazenness was something new altogether.

I have been in the media for more than a decade now and have seen/covered the previous two elections, but have never witnessed the kind of censorship that we faced this time around. It was as if we just couldn’t tell the truth. We had to talk in a roundabout way to say that these elections were rigge…

Puppet on a string

'Naya Pakistan' with old rules

Pakistan's general elections are over. Or are they? Well, technically the election results are in. The leading party is Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. While the process of government formation is still in progress, it is all but clear that the next prime minister of Pakistan would be none other than Khan. His dream has finally been fulfilled. Or has it? Could this 'dream' turn into a 'nightmare' for Mr Khan soon after coming to power? Only time will tell but we have already seen some teething troubles for the PTI.

It was but obvious to all and sundry that Khan and his party, the PTI, would form the next government in Pakistan. No surprises there, given the pre-poll rigging. The night before the elections, most of us in the media were giving our predictions as to which party would bag how many seats. My own prediction about the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan Peoples Party was close enough but despit…

It’s IM?!

A messy general election stage-managed by the military and the deep state may well see Imran Khan crowned ‘Kaptaan Pakistan’.

General elections in Pakistan are just three days away. Two successive democratically elected governments have completed their tenures since the 2008 general elections. A third election should have consolidated Pakistan's fragile democratic process. Instead, it is in a shambles: pre-poll rigging, coercion, intimidation and much more. Whatever the results, the outcome of these elections has already been tainted. They have lost all credibility due to the open manipulation by Pakistan's all-powerful military establishment.

"These are the dirtiest elections of Pakistan; they are not even in a thousand-mile radius of being 'free and fair'. Political engineering and media coercion is at its peak. We have never seen such brazen manipulation ever," says commentator Marvi Sirmed.

She isn't alone; the same sentiment is being echoed by most …

Countdown to the 'dirtiest, costliest election' in Pakistan's history

With the PML-N and PPP facing the worst form of election engineering, the road is clear for Imran Khan's PTI and a coalition of independents and some other 'favourites' to form the next govt

The general elections in Pakistan are going to be held one week from now on July 25. Besides the two largest political parties -– the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) -– most experts and commentators have already called these one of the worst elections in Pakistan’s history. I A Rehman from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called these the “dirtiest, costliest election in Pakistan’s history”. Both the PML-N and the PPP have already alleged pre-poll rigging and arm-twisting by the military establishment. While the army spokesman clarified in a recent press conference that the army is not siding with any political party, Mian Nawaz Sharif named a senior ISI official of arm-twisting PML-N candidates while the PPP’s Farhatullah Ba…

All the king's men

In Pakistan, the democratic process is in danger again

Elections in Pakistan are all set to take place. It is quite clear that two of the largest political parties in the country - the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the Pakistan Peoples Party - are being pushed against the wall while the establishment's new favourite party, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, is being propped up.

The former PPP senator, Farhatullah Babar, put it aptly when he said, "Seldom before has the pre-poll process been so vitiated, so unfair and so grotesque. The invisible political engineers seem desperate for a fragmented and divided parliament that is easier to manipulate." He added that "a silent coup has taken place, far softer and subtler than any previous coups".

Babar is, of course, referring to the manipulation of the electoral process which is taking place behind the scenes by those who must not be named. Both the PML-N leadership and the PPP leadership have said on …

Nawaz Sharif's Date With Destiny

After being sentenced to prison, former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz are set to return to the country on July 13, as the establishment tries to finish off their political careers

“We cannot play ostrich. Democracy just cannot flourish amid fear. Liberty cannot bloom amid hate. Justice cannot take root amid rage … We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust” — Thurgood Marshall, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.

On July 6, former Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, his daughter Maryam Nawaz and son-in-law Captain (retd.) Safdar were sentenced by an accountability court in the Avenfield reference case. Sharif has been sentenced to 10 years’ jail time, Maryam Nawaz was given 7 years while her husband has been given 1 year jail time. The accountability court’s decision was not unexpected.

Last July, the Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Sharif in the Panama Papers case, after which he stepped down from the p…

A manipulated outcome

Pakistan may be headed towards an election that is compromised

The general elections in Pakistan are all set to take place on July 25. With the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government completing its tenure and a caretaker set-up in place, we are seeing our second democratic transition. The electoral process has started. Political parties have almost finalized party tickets to candidates, nomination papers are being filed, the election campaign has started and will be in full swing post-Eid. On July 25, Pakistanis will vote in another government. The second democratic transition will be complete once a new democratic government comes to power. Who will form the government - the PML-N, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or the Pakistan Peoples Party? This is the question that is on everyone's mind.

In 2013, it was quite apparent that the PML-N would bag the majority of seats, but this time around nothing is clear. Or there seems to be no clear winner. There are a lot of conspiracy theorie…

A fatal mixture

Religion and politics in Pakistan

Pakistan's interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal, survived an assassination attempt. Iqbal was attacked during a corner meeting in his constituency in Narowal. Thankfully, the bullet did not hit any of his vital organs and he is out of danger now. In February, a man had hurled a shoe at Iqbal at a PML-N workers' convention in Narowal. The two incidents — one with a shoe and another with a pistol — do raise questions over the security details of one of the most important federal ministers of Pakistan. Then again, there is not much that can be done vis-à-vis security during election campaign season but any minor loophole can lead to a major catastrophe as witnessed on Sunday.

While the assassination attempt itself is shocking, there is a more alarming factor: the shooter, Abid Hussain, is affiliated to the Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah. He carried out the shooting due to the ' Khatam-e-Nabuwat (Finality of Prophethood)' issue. I had written …

Controlled democracy

"Pakistani democracy is like a vehicle that the prime minister may be steering but those driving it are invisible people sitting on the backseat. Such a vehicle is doomed to meet a terrible accident," said Farhatullah Babar at the Asma Jahangir Convention on Sunday. The former senator's words are not far from the truth.

Pakistan is facing one of its worst political crises at the moment. Last month, the elections for chairman senate showed how they were manipulated. The Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf cobbled together an alliance with some independent candidates to elect Sadiq Sanjrani as chairman senate in order to defeat the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. But this was not a natural alliance. As the senator, Hasil Bizenjo, pointed out during his speech after Sanjrani's victory, there are some forces in the country that are 'more supreme' than Parliament. While talking about these 'forces', Bizenjo kept patting his shoulder, a si…

A moral compass

Bravery, thy name is Asma Jahangir

As a Pakistani woman, this year's International Women's Day somehow felt incomplete because of the loss of one of our most iconic feminist figures, Asma Jahangir, who passed away in February due to cardiac arrest. She had only just turned 66. The news of her sudden death jolted each and every one of us. It was a personal loss not only because a lot of us knew her closely but also because she was an inspiration to millions of men and women around the world.

Asma Jahangir was a champion of human rights, an untiring campaigner for women's rights, a voice for minority rights, a democrat to the core, a brilliant lawyer and a crusader who did not bow down to pressure. There was no one like her, and there may never be another as brave and courageous as Asma ji. As Mohammad Taqi put it, she was our moral compass. If she took a position, it meant that we should do so too because she had always been on the right side of history. She was a class apa…