Want to know an intelligent analysis of key messages in your inbox on each day of the week along with other global reads, interesting ideas and opinions? Sign up for the Today's WorldView Newsletter .
Pakistanis will hand over their dismal national elections on Wednesday. A series of suicide attacks has resulted in dozens of deaths in campaign rallies. Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam were excluded from allegations of corruption, which many Pakistanis considered politically motivated, while activists warned that a large number of candidates were forced to change parties and journalists and media were intimidated and silenced , In the midst of chaos, a flood of extremist Islamist candidates came into the field, a worrying sign of the country's political drift.
The campaign was defined by "blatant, aggressive, and unflinching attempts to manipulate the outcome," Pakistan's Independent Human Rights Commission said.
The obvious beneficiary of many of these efforts was the party of Imran Khan, who was once a marginal party, a dashing cricket star who became a nationalist politician. And the hidden power that is believed to pave the way for Khan's victory is Pakistan's military.
The best minds in the country can look back on a long history of intervening in Pakistani democracy . Pakistan's generals have ruled the nation several times over the past seven decades; If they were not open to power, they exaggeratedly controlled foreign policy, the economy and local politics. ISI, the military's shadowy and influential secret service, continues to nurture relationships with militants overseas and stifle civil society in their own country. And while this election will mark the third shift of power from one civilian government to another – a Pakistani-standard success story – it has fingerprints of military everywhere.
The leading hand of the military is visible in the partisan justice that went to Sharif, who is now languishing in jail with his daughter. This is also reflected in the portrayal of important Pakistani media, including the respected English-language daily Dawn and the independent television channel Geo TV. As Sharif's party in recent weeks in Punjab province, where more than half of the population live, has been rallying massively, the Pakistanis have had to go to social media to find pictures of the event.
A group of prominent retired military have gathered behind 62-year-old Khan. The charismatic Oxford-educated former playboy has since transformed himself into a pious nationalist who denigrates the "toxicity" of the West and the decadent distancing of his rivals. He sees both Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N as well as the left-liberal Pakistani People's Party of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto as corrupt, dynastic groups that emasculate the wealth of the nation.
Similar to India's Narendra Modi or the Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Khan directs the desperation of the country's conservative bourgeoisie and stirs his anger at worldly elites.
"Liberals are thirsty for blood, they have absolutely no idea," Khan told British journalist Ben Judah earlier this year. "They are sitting in the drawing room reading the English-language newspapers that are very unlike real Pakistan, and I promise you that they will be lost in our villages."
But even with the Libra now in its favor Not to despise Khan . It is expected that the PPP in Bhutto's original province of Sindh will do relatively well. Sharif's imprisonment – and the continued feeling that the military is still in power – has strengthened support for his party, especially in his native Punjab. If Khan's Justice Party ends with a majority of parliamentary seats, he must reverse Sharif's momentum there.