Pakistan set for historic election amid charges of army meddling

Hugh Fox
July 24, 2018

Gandapur's party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, condemned the attack, but campaigning continued ahead of Wednesday's polls. In addition, the European Union Election Observation Mission (EUEOM) consisting of 100 observers will also monitor the elections.

The military has ruled Pakistan through various coups for almost half of the country's history since independence in 1947.

Mr Khan's party appears to have surged in popularity in recent months, leaving the election as a two horse race with the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party of jailed former prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Rescue workers move the body of Ikramullah Gandapur who was killed in the suicide bombing in Dera Ismail Khan on Sunday July 22. AP
Rescue workers move the body of Ikramullah Gandapur who was killed in the suicide bombing in Dera Ismail Khan on Sunday July 22. AP

The party have said they have been "victimised" but remain "resilient" and have seen "a spike in popular support". The voting will start at 8.00 am and will continue till 6.00 pm.

On July 11, a candidate from the PTI's rival Awami National Party (ANP) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was killed in a suicide attack, alongside 19 others, after an explosion at a rally in Peshawar.

People's eyes are on the verge of seeing Imran Khan to be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan with leading the country towards improvement, development, advancement, economic stability, prosperity and enlightenment.

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Critics have long accused Pakistan's powerful military, including its Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, of meddling in politics and judicial affairs, a charge it denies.

"They have served the masses, they have put an end to..."

"I am giving this task to all of you: wake up early on the 25th and cast your vote", Khan told thousands of PTI faithful in Lahore.

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Around the same time that Gandapur came under attack, Jamiat-Ulema-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Akram Khan Durrani, a former Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa chief minister, survived a second assassination attempt in less than 10 days. "The economy will be further in tatters if a weak government is formed after the July 25 polls", he said.

Activists and think tanks have also widely decried a "silent coup" by Pakistan's generals. Also, going by the popular notion that the country's all-powerful military establishment is backing Khan, it seems Pakistan's foreign policy and its strategic relations with neighbouring counties, especially India, will have a major impact.

Some vowed to take to the streets if directed by their leaders. Analysts say he will have to make serious inroads in Punjab province - a PML-N stronghold - in order to win the vote. "We are all ready".

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