Imran Khan is missing and present in Pakistani elections

islamabad– “Tomorrow Imran Khan will win.” This is what many Pakistanis, especially the youth, met in the capital on Al Jazeera Net, say. This is what surprised us. How will that man win when he has been in jail since last August and last week he was sentenced to three terms of imprisonment? In the first, 10 years, in the second, 14 years and in the third, 7 years. He was prevented from participating in the elections, and his party, PTI, banned.

Businessman Mirza Naveed Baig, 44 – whom Al Jazeera Net met at Islamabad airport returning from South Africa – says he is especially excited to participate in the elections that began today and to support his family, relatives and those in need. He had come to urge people he knew to participate. Show solidarity in the elections in favor of Imran Khan and his “oppressed” party.

Posters of several candidates for general elections in Islamabad
Advertisements of several candidates for the general elections in the Pakistani capital (Al Jazeera Net)

This is where two young men, Muhammad Jamal and Zahid Ali, who returned to the country, went and we met them at Islamabad airport and other places, with the aim of participating in these elections and voting for Imran Khan, as They said.

We were surprised by the enthusiasm and insistence of many people to support jailed Imran Khan and to participate in the elections.

We asked Mirza Naveed how Imran Khan will win the elections when he has been detained and his party banned. He said that he and millions of others believe in his ideas and the ideas of this party, and Imran Khan's call will be answered. They were detained for taking part in the elections en masse with the aim of correcting the injustice done to their leader and other leaders in PTI.

Imran Khan addressed voters a few days ago in a statement published on his account on the Is.”

Election campaign for Imran Khan's candidate Muhammad Shoaib Shaheen
Imran Khan supporters campaign for Shaheen on a street in Islamabad (Al Jazeera Net)

Imran Khan's picture is available

Despite being banned from contesting elections, several candidates have Imran Khan's photographs next to their photographs in election advertisements to demonstrate their affiliation with PTI, despite the fact that each candidate adopts a slogan that is similar to that of the other. Is different from. Authorities banned the strike slogan, which PTI had used as its slogan in previous elections.

When the elections started on Thursday morning, we met voter Muhammad Shahroz Khan at a polling booth. He asked who would he cast his vote for? “Of course I chose Muhammad Shoaib Shaheen because he is a follower of Imran Khan,” he replied enthusiastically.

Shahroz confirmed that Imran Khan enjoys widespread popularity among Pakistanis, be it in the capital or in other areas, adding that he is hopeful that people following Imran Khan will achieve a clear victory in the current elections.

Muhammad Zahid also agreed with Shahroz and expressed his support for Imran Khan and all those who follow him.

A voter casts his vote in the election at a polling station in Islamabad
Shahroz, one of Imran Khan's supporters (Al Jazeera Net)

use of social networking

PTI party is better than other competing parties in using social media, it is believed that it had excelled in using it in 2018 and was eligible to win the elections at that time.

One of the movement's cadres says they have created an online portal that enables users to enter the electoral district number and thus identify them with the candidate's name and symbol, in order to circumvent the ban on the official name of the party. And the action of the officials to go on strike can be stopped. Logo.

Other party workers mentioned using the WhatsApp application to organize their affairs, introduce party candidates, and arrange procedures to ensure that the party received the most votes.

A voter casts his vote in the election at a polling station in Islamabad
One of the polling stations in Islamabad (Al Jazeera Net)

behind bars

Imran Khan was accused of purchasing several gifts from rulers and government officials and reselling them for undisclosed profits. Apart from jail sentence, the court also imposed a fine of lakhs on his wife Bushra Bibi. The special court – which was held in the prison where he has been held since his previous conviction – did not give him any opportunity to defend himself. He himself was not present during the sentencing.

Observers believe the timing of the decision is not innocent, as it comes just days before the elections, with the aim of removing him from the ballot boxes and discrediting him and his party. He also believes that it all comes under guidelines. Army, the most powerful institution of the state.

Army and elections

At the beginning of his work as Prime Minister in 2018, Imran Khan had the support of the military and intelligence services, but he lost their support due to his defense budget cuts while in power and his attempt to prove his independence from the military. Are turning away.

In the 2018 elections, the Imran Khan-led PTI won 115 out of 272 seats in the National Parliament (National Assembly), handing a crushing defeat to traditional political parties, especially the People's Party and the Muslim League.

Throughout his political career, Imran Khan has sought to fight rampant corruption in the country, as a way to win over his fans and attract people dissatisfied with political parties and traditional feudal families such as the Sharif family in Punjab and the Bhutto family in Sindh. Raised the slogan of. ,

When Imran Khan became Prime Minister, he was keen to strengthen ties with Beijing and Moscow. He also visited Russia two days after it started the war on Ukraine, then rejected a US demand to vote to censure Moscow at the UN. He repeatedly criticized American attacks directed against Islamic militants in Pakistan, considering them a violation of his country's sovereignty.

In contrast to Washington's approach, Imran Khan was known for his support of the Afghan Taliban movement, and had even celebrated the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan in August 2021. This was one of the factors that led to deteriorating relations with Washington, which is believed to have encouraged his overthrow.

Declaration of one of the candidates supporting Imran Khan: “Revenge against oppression by voting” (French)

election amid tension

Since eight in the morning (Pakistan time), millions of voters began casting their votes to elect representatives to the federal parliament, in addition to members of regional parliaments.

The elections are being held against a backdrop of security and political tension and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is expected to return to lead the government for a fourth term.

More than 128 million voters are entitled to take part in 12 general parliamentary elections, and the next government will be formed by the party that receives the support of two-thirds of the delegates.

About 90,000 polling stations opened their doors to voters, while the Ministry of the Interior announced a “temporary suspension of mobile phone services” throughout the country on election day, and blocked internet service in several areas, citing security reasons. Gave.

The country is on high alert amid deployment of the army at polling stations and thousands of soldiers and paramilitary personnel have been deployed across Pakistan. The country also announced that it had closed its borders due to security reasons.

Unofficial preliminary results are expected a few hours after polls close at 5pm local time and the picture is likely to become clearer tomorrow morning.

More than 40 people have been killed and dozens of others injured in several election-related incidents and bomb blasts in the past few days, especially in Balochistan and Khyber provinces.

With a population of approximately 250 million, Pakistan is considered to be the fifth largest country in terms of population.

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