The struggle for political power in Pakistan will be difficult. A large part of the population voted for a change of course.

People, one of them wearing PTI colors, dance in the street

Supporters of the Pakistani opposition party PTI dance in the street Photo: Reuters/Fayaz Aziz

It is surprising that former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was able to win so many voters despite, or perhaps because of, the repression directed against him, such as his imprisonment and exclusion from parliamentary elections. Although Khan's PTI party could not run under the usual cricket bat logo and name, independent candidates supported by the PTI obtained more than a third of the votes in the National Assembly, which can be achieved through direct mandates. Khan is seen as a man who challenges the establishment and, therefore, also the powerful Pakistani military. This ensured him a large base of support, especially among the younger electorate.

Jailed former cricket star Khan cannot speak for himself from prison, his team works with videos generated by artificial intelligence, but he claims victory. It is questionable whether the populist can take the country out of his misery. Politically, he failed to convince during his term from 2018 to 2022: the economic recovery failed to materialize and he could not alleviate the problem of terrorism. Khan himself once came to power with the help of the military. He has fallen out of favor with him. He has found a new and old partner in the Sharif family.

It will be difficult for Nawaz Sharif, who is also claiming victory in the elections, to win the post of prime minister for the fourth time. A large part of the population has spoken out in favor of a change of course and against a coalition led by the Sharif family.

PTI candidates will probably not get a chance to form the government. It's not just the population that probably feels ignored. In reality, an elected government would have to be stronger than the interim government that has been in power since August. But there are fears that these elections will do more harm than good to Pakistan, as the establishment wants to impose its will. Forcing such a government could lead to the next crisis.