Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Shehbaz Sharif's Second Term and Imran Khan's Unyielding Influence

Pakistan's Political Turmoil: Shehbaz Sharif's Second Term and Imran Khan's Unyielding Influence
by Veronaa, via iStock, May 5, 2018


Eleonora Bruno

Pakistan Researcher, 

Global Human Rights Defence

Pakistan's recently formed parliament has re-elected Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister for a second term, defeating a rival backed by the imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan. This decision follows an inconclusive general election plagued by allegations of intimidation and vote-rigging three weeks earlier. Mr. Sharif's PML-N party secured the second position in the poll. Although independent candidates supported by Mr. Khan's PTI won the majority of seats, they failed to gain a decisive advantage. National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq announced Mr. Sharif's victory with 201 parliamentary votes, surpassing the required threshold of 169. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Sharif emphasised the democratic necessity for like-minded parties to form a coalition government due to the absence of a clear parliamentary majority. 

After the August dissolution of the National Assembly, Pakistan was under a caretaker government. Imran Khan's incarceration and disqualification from standing in the February 6th Election marked a tumultuous period. Despite facing over 150 charges, Khan's PTI emerged as the largest party. However, the election resulted in a fragile, minority government. Following the election, the PML-N and PPP, traditional rivals, formed a coalition to depose Imran Khan and install Mr. Sharif as his successor. Despite Khan's imprisonment and allegations of rigging, PTI remained a formidable force. Khan's imprisonment galvanised his supporters, who utilised social media and grassroots efforts to secure votes. 

Imran Khan's refusal to form alliances reflects his long standing anti-corruption stance and reluctance to share power with political adversaries. His imprisonment hasn't subdued his political fervour; instead, it has reinforced his image as a defiant leader challenging established norms. Khan's opponents, while reluctant to govern, face daunting challenges such as a debt crisis and soaring inflation. International donors are increasingly pivotal in Pakistan's governance landscape. Imran Khan's time in jail is unlikely to temper his combative politics. He remains a potent force, rallying against the established political order, even from his prison cell as Pakistan's most prominent prisoner, number 804.

Sources and further readings:

[1] Pakistan: Shehbaz Sharif wins second term as prime minister. (2024, March 3). BBC News. [Accessed 4th March, 2024]

[2] Hanif , M. (2024, March 2). Pakistan’s “King of Chaos” Imran Khan keeps winning even behind bars. BBC News. [Accessed 4th March, 2024]