14 May, 2021

The Pathan Suits: Can Imran Khan Lay A New Path For Pakistan’s Fractured Polity?

Rawalpindi is seen to patronise him. And it’s a conducive pitch electorally—even if Nawaz Sharif, playing the victim card, poses a threat from prison. But the pennants of Imran Khan’s PTI fly the highest. Can he lay a new path for Pakistan’s fractured polity?

Photograph by Getty Imgaes
The Pathan Suits: Can Imran Khan Lay A New Path For Pakistan’s Fractured Polity?

Imran Khan looks a bit like he used to at the top of his run-up, keen as a rapier and bustling with intent. He’s a man on a mission, addressing public meetings twice a day across electoral battlegrounds. Still extremely charismatic at 65, he’s the only real crowd-puller whose presence can make a difference to a candidate running under the banner of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI). Pakistan, like India, labours under the slippery first-past-the-post system—a few floating votes can settle a game. And if anyone can swing the ball in dead air, it’s the Pathan.

The schedule must be gruelling even for a physically fit Imran, but it doesn’t show. The excitement of what comes next must be driving him. Pakistan is staring at an electoral lan­­dscape shorn of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, the duo that dominated politics in the post-Zia era. That’s a huge, roiling vacuum. What that means is, perh­­aps for the first time since 1996, when Imran founded his party, there is unparalleled confidence about the PTI’s chances in...

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