On Wednesday, with riven controversy, Pakistan’s elections were held. Widespread allegations were made all over the country that the country’s army came down heavily against the PML-N and supported Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaaf. Khan declared himself the winner on Thursday.
A national hero, who led his country to a cricket world cup win in 1992, Khan fought on a very troubling conservative platform. He backed Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy and also supported the further marginalization of the members of the Ahmedi sect. Khan earned the nickname “Taliban Khan” from his critics because of his supports towards pro-Taliban groups. The province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa ruled his party before.
With the former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accused of being too friendly with India, this year’s election was shot through with anti-India rhetoric. During the first press conference on Thursday, Khan declared that Pakistan and India should meet for talks. But also the fact that the anti-rhetoric of the election campaign cannot be ignored. One of the main reasons why the Army set itself against the Sharifs and supported Khan’s win is because of Sharif’s lenient attitude towards India.
Due to India’s own belligerent domestic rhetoric with respect to its western neighbor, this truculence from the Pakistan side is compounded. During the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and state elections, Pakistan prominently figured out that a rhetorical point used by the BJP to paint its opponents as lesser patriots. While the BJP was in power, it was continued with Opposition leaders often being told to “go to Pakistan”. In this race to the bottom, even the Opposition has joined. Earlier this month the Congress taunted Modi by asking him about his “dear friend” Nawaz Sharif, referring to 2015, two prime ministers meeting.
This anti-Pakistan rhetoric will only become sharper as Lok Sabha election approaches in India. The risk of being branded unpatriotic is there if any side even hints at peace runs. Adding this to Khan’s election will clearly show the sharp rise of conservatism in Pakistan and a long wait for anyone expecting a normalization of relations between the two subcontinental twins will probably be the result.