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National

July 12, 2018

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Elections 2018: Imran Khan’s best chance to win

This is Imran Khan's best chance to win Election-2018, unless his political archrival, Nawaz Sharif, turns the table on July 13, in favour of the PML-N. Imran can take the credit of pushing his rival to this position, where he not only stands disqualified but also convicted by the competent court. Can the prisoner Sharif be more dangerous than the PM Sharif?

Irrespective of the outcome or impact of July 13, and aftermath of July 25 results, Imran still stands a good chance in the elections. How much the PML-N will improve or lose will also depend on the events which are likely to unfold in between.

Imran also stands a better chance as his other political rival, Asif Ali Zardari, and the PPP, are also down, while the fall of MQM has also provided his party ample space to fill the vacuum. Whether they can do it or not depends on their work and capacity. So, the stage is quite set for him and no matter what his critics says, the fact remains that the last 10 years of governance and politics of the two previous governments of the PPP and the PML-N gave rise to the PTI, as the third alternative.

It was PPP's dilemma that it could not recover from Benazir Bhutto's assassination and it was Imran Khan and not Asif Ali Zardari, who earned the place of main political rival of Nawaz Sharif.

PPP also badly misjudged and misread 2013 elections, as its vote bank switched to the PTI, and they failed to see the writing on the wall, in their five years. Rightly or wrongly, they could not remove the tag of friendly opposition in a bid to save their own neck.

The PTI and Imran provided stiff opposition to the PML-N government throughout its five years tenure. Sharif's poor handling of situation from 2014 to 2016, led to a situation where, on the one hand, Imran continued his opposition and, on the other hand, Sharif also lost confidence and trust of Zardari and the PPP.

All this went in favour of Imran Khan and the PTI. As, for the first time, it got the government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP), despite political criticism, its government did not face any major financial scam.

April 2016 was the turning point when Panama leaks hit the headlines about offshore companies of some big names around the world including some heads of states and governments. The name of Nawaz Sharif's children also appeared in these lists.

This gave a new life to Imran, who was down since the Judicial Commission Report on 2013 election rigging had dismissed his plea and vindicated Nawaz Sharif. He never looked back and none other than Nawaz Sharif himself fallen in the trap.

He could have bailed himself out. Firstly, if he had stepped down, accepting moral responsibility or could have accepted opposition and PPP's plea to go to the Parliament.

The events from April 2016 to July 28, 2017, when the Supreme Court larger bench disqualified him for life from electoral politics, gave the real rise to Imran Khan.

It was at that point that Sharif took a defiance path, but ultimately lost the legal battle and was convicted last week. Meanwhile, his narrative altered some other quarters, which led to the crisis in Balochistan, Senate chairman elections and defections of electables from the PML-N.

Imran emerged on Pakistan's political arena as a non-entity in politics and till 2002, the majority considered him as a failure in politics. His decision to contest the election just a year after formation of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in 1997 was a disaster. He himself faced humiliating defeat from all constituencies he had contested.

Interestingly, he failed on his debut, both in cricket and in politics, but with the passage of time got success and rise in both. After he quit cricket, he gave more time to Shaukat Khanum Cancer hospital, named after his mother. Because of being the captain of the team which won the World Cup 1992, he got massive response and donation from all quarters.

While Imran still doesn’t remember, it was on August 14, 1993, that some quarters started working on a party of good people. According to Mr Anwar Kazmi, a veteran of Edhi Trust Foundation, it was former ISI chief, the late Lt-Gen , Hameed Gul, who tried to pursue both the late Maulana Abdus Sattar Edhi and Imran Khan to support his agenda of party of people, who enjoyed good reputation.

Gul was annoyed at both Benazir and Nawaz Sharif. However, Imran, after provided initial support, kept himself away. In 1996, at Zaman Park, around 15 people laid the foundation of the PTI.

But, the party could not make much impact as people only came to see Imran, rather listening to him. After the first defeat, he won his own seat from Mianwali, his hometown in 2002. He supported General Musharraf from 1999 to 2002, but withdrew his support after he realised that he had some other agenda.

In 2008, his party was part of an alliance along with the PML-N and Jamaat-e-Islami, and they decided to boycott elections under Musharraf. The PML-N later backed out and joined hands with the PPP in going to polls.

By 2011, the PTI emerged as the real force and till then its politics was based on non-status quo. The result of 2013 polls brought about great successes to the PTI, and it formed government in KP with the help of JI.

The PTI is making progress since 1997, but the upcoming election is the best chance for it to win it and form a government in Centre. If they win, it will be like dream coming true for Imran. This is Imran’s best and perhaps the last chance too to become the prime minister. He is just to overcome the last hurdle, which is still Nawaz Sharif, despite his disqualification and conviction.

  The writer is a senior columnist and analyst of Geo, The News and Jang.

Twitter: @MazharAbbasGEO

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