Pakistan: Voting Under Military Tutelage

Issue Date January 2019
Volume 30
Issue 1
Page Numbers 128-142
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Pakistan’s July 2018 parliamentary election brought to power the right-wing Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf, headed by former cricket star Imran Khan. The victory of Khan, who rails against political elites and against corruption, fits with the global trend of rising support for extremist populist leaders. Yet it also reflects the particular realities of Pakistan’s hybrid regime. Khan became a serious contender thanks in large part to his alliance with the military, which had grown increasingly antagonistic toward the rival Pakistan Muslim League of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif (ousted over corruption charges in mid-2017 and later jailed). Serious accusations of fraud and a range of military machinations marred the 2018 electoral contest. Although the July vote formally marked Pakistan’s second peaceful turnover of power, the country’s political system may be most accurately classified as a pseudodemocratic fa├žade covering the reality of continued military tutelage.