Sunday, July 29, 2018

General Election 2018 in Pakistan (Tehran Times)

‘Political transition may be smooth but Imran Khan won’t be able to run the country smoothly’ By: Syed Zafar Mehdi July 29, 2018

Q. Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan claimed victory in general election on Thursday amid accusations of rigging and manipulation by rivals. Are other parties being ungraceful in defeat or do they have legitimate grievances?

A: Yes, and it is premature to say anything else because situation is very fluid. The very exercise of elections stands highly doubtful and irregularities are not only reported by national but international media as well.

Q. As you mentioned, there are reports about irregularities. PML-N, the main rival of PTI in this election, has rejected the result claiming rigging. What options do they have now?

A: PML-N is in strong position because Nawaz Sharif and Maryam are back in the country and they have proved everyone wrong, Nawaz Sharif’s narrative is intact and trending as anyone can see in print and electronic media as well as social media. Imran Khan’s very victory is tainted.

Q. As alleged by PML-N, PPP and other smaller parties prior to the election, all the parties were not given a level playing field and PTI was favored over others. Do you think Imran Khan's turnaround in fortunes is largely because of military establishment's blessings?

A: Yes, writing is on the wall and widely reported and even a child can tell that polls were highly mismanaged, rather engineered.

Q. Since most of the parties have rejected the result, do you think the transition of power will be smooth and the new government will be stable?

A: Transition may or may not be smooth but Imran Khan won’t be able to run the country smoothly. He doesn’t have committed ‘original PTI’ with him. He now has the turncoats of every party in the shape of electable and electable are basically carpetbaggers. Imran Khan has lost the moral high ground.

Q. While Khan is considered a non-corrupt and honest politician, he is seen close to army and to the Taliban. Is Pakistan ready for a leader like him?

A: Question is how do you define ‘corruption’? In my opinion intellectual dishonesty is more harmful than financial corruption and Pakistan has suffered due to this intellectual corruption in the last 60 years, particularly judiciary’s intellectual dishonesty.

Q. What are the major challenges in front of the new government?

A: FATF, Pakistan’s International Image, Completion of CPEC and distribution of proper dividends amongst provinces, NFC Award, Missing Persons, Freedom of Expression and last and the most important “complete eradication of decimation of sectarian groups from Punjab, Baluchistan and Upper Sindh. Sectarian organisations are clear and present danger.

Q. Now that PML-N has failed to retain power, do you think Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Sharif have to spend more time in jail than they would have expected?

A: I won’t say that Sharif family is innocent but the trial was also not fair and media was allowed to influence during proceedings. Corruption cases and the way these cases are manipulated and tried in Pakistan is itself a joke, we all know how Musharraf inducted those who were Bank defaulters and thoroughly corrupt and facing NAB enquiries. Therefore, such cases in Pakistan carry no weight.

Q. If Imran Khan becomes the next PM, what would be the focus of his foreign policy, especially vis a vis relations with neighbors India and Afghanistan and America's shadow over Pakistan.

A: It would be a disaster. He or his team has no idea what to do. Imran Khan is totally clueless and amateur as a political leader. 

TEHRAN - Aamir Mughal is a Pakistan-based political commentator and social media activist. He was formerly a senior intelligence officer. In this interview with Tehran Times, he spoke about the general elections in Pakistan and allegations of vote rigging and manipulation.

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