On February 8, some 60 million Pakistanis – out of nearly 129 million registered voters – took to the polls in the country’s general election. The party of Imran Khan, the imprisoned former Prime Minister, won the most seats – but no party won a simple majority. This unexpected result is a rebuke of the country’s military leaders and has thrown the political system into disarray as Pakistan struggles to recover from an economic crisis and address militant violence.
In a deeply polarized political landscape, Pakistan’s military leaders had hoped that the election would bring an end to the political chaos that has existed since Khan was ousted in 2022. Instead, it appears that the crisis has deepened. The New York Times reported that never in the “country’s history has a politician seen such success in an election without the backing of the generals.” The election has stirred greater instability.
Both Khan and his main rival, three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, declared victory on Friday, increasing uncertainty over who will form the next government at a time when swift policy action is needed to address multiple challenges. Join the American Council on Germany for a discussion about the election in Pakistan and how things might unfold with Prof. Dr. Conrad Schetter, Director of the Bonn International Centre for Conflict Studies.