22 Years Later, Imran Khan Finally Becoming Pakistan’s Overall Captain

by Shams Irfan

SRINAGAR: After the unofficial results of Pakistan general elections 2018 started to pour in, suggesting a clear edge for cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, everyone in Kashmir is waiting for the finally numbers and his takeover.

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), is leading with 120 seats, while ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML (N) has managed to get lead on 61 seats. The third major political force Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has just 40 National Assembly seats in their kitty. A party with 137 berths in the 342 eat house – 272 are directly elected and 70 are nominated for minorities and weaker sections, can form the government.

With results yet to be declared officially, Imran Khan addressed media via a video link from his Bani Gala residence, thanking people of Pakistan for giving him an opportunity to form the government. Interestingly, Khan’s address to the nation was live streamed by almost all Indian media channels, despite the fact that Pakistani satellite channels were banned in India, particularly in Kashmir since last two weeks.

“I am disappointed the way I am projected by Indian media in last few days. They have made me into a Bollywood villain,” said Khan while talking about India. “I am a known face in India. I want good relations with India. We must focus our energies on eradicating poverties from our countries.”

Khan who is set to form government after his 22-year long political struggle, said, “If they (India) take one step towards us, we will take two.”

Then choosing his words carefully Khan said the unfortunate truth is that Kashmir is a core issue between India and Pakistan, which can only be resolved by dialogue. “Kashmiris are suffering for long. We have to solve Kashmir issue by sitting across the table. If India’s leadership is willing then both of us can solve this issue through dialogue. It will be good for the subcontinent also,” Khan said. “Kashmir has witnessed human rights violations in last three decades. Sending army won’t help. Only talks can help.”

Khan’s victory is viewed in Kashmir with both caution and excitement as people are keen to know how his K-policy will be different from earlier governments in Pakistan. In his first media address Khan was brief about his intentions on Kashmir, but his offer of dialogue has already raised hopes.

Khan’s iconic image with a glittering trophy in hand from 1992 cricket world cup is still etched in every Kashmiris mind, but as he takes reign of Pakistan, his words on Kashmir, which have been fewer so far, would determine his status.

“To have friendship between India and Pakistan will be the most important thing for the sub-continent,” Khan suggests in his video address.

Interestingly, Khan’s PTI is edging towards a majority in Punjab in Provincial Assembly elections with a lead of 113 seats in a house of 297 seats. Punjab has been a stronghold of Nawaz Sharif’s youngest brother Shabaz Sharif, who has served as its Chief Minster for three non-consecutive terms since 1997.

Also, Khan is set to form government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, as PTI leads in 64 seats out of 99. In 2013 elections Khan’s party formed a collation government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after winning 48 seats in 124 seat assembly.

Since then Khan has worked hard to put remote Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on national map with focus on improvement in education, healthcare and infrastructure.

Polls in Pakistan

On July 25, Pakistan went to polls to elect members of 15th National Assembly (NA) and members for four Provincial Assemblies. Unlike other parts of the world, Pakistani voters chose both state and national assembly members simultaneously. Once the final results are out, the general elections 2018 would be the second transfer of power from one civilian government to another in Pakistan’s coup-prone 71-year history.

The first transfer of power happened in 2013, when Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), became Prime Minister for a third time after winning 166 seats out of a total of 342 in the National Assembly. However, on July 28, 2017, he was disqualified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan from holding public office for not disclosing his employment in the Dubai-based Capital FZE Company.

In 2018 elections, there are 105955407 registered voters including 46731145 female and 59224262 male voters, who cast their votes at 85,000 designated polling stations located across Pakistan. In 2013 elections

Reaction in Kashmir

Hurriyat (m) Chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq took to social media site Twitter after Imran Khan’s “victory speech” and wrote: Welcome the statement of PTI chief @ImranKhanPTI calling for resolution of #Kashmir dispute through dialogue in view of huge human cost of this long standing dispute especially being borne by the people of Kashmir. Hope the two neighbours give real peace a chance!

NC President Dr Farooq Abdullah was quoted saying: “”I congratulate Imran Khan. I’ll also say that his statement regarding India that he wants to have better relations with India & solve issues with dialogue, is kind-hearted. We want him to implement what he is saying.”


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