Pakistan Elections 2024: Pakistan is set to vote on Thursday to elect a new government to rule the country amid a spree of violence, including deadly blasts on the eve of the general elections. The cash-strapped country is grappling with an economic crisis and political uncertainty following the ouster of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in 2022.
Look At Key Players Racing For Top Post
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is considered a front-runner to lead the country. He is believed to have the backing of the powerful military.
With former prime minister Imran Khan in jail, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is expected to become the leading party in the upcoming elections. At 74, Sharif aims to secure the premiership for a historic fourth term in the Thursday election.
Maryam Nawaz Sharif
Maryam Nawaz Sharif, the daughter of Nawaz Sharif, plays a key role in the PML-N party. Nawaz has presented her as his political heir apparent. She is the senior vice president of the party.
Maryam and her father were jailed shortly before the 2018 elections on corruption charges, which were later overturned. It is pertinent to mention that Maryam has not previously held office but has led many rallies during her father’s self-imposed exile.
Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz, has led a coalition government for 16 months after the ouster of former PM Imran Khan in 2022 until parliament was dissolved.
Shehbaz Sharif had served as chief minister of Punjab in the past and helped Pakistan avert a financial crisis last year by striking a deal with the International Monetary Fund after tenuous and delayed negotiations, as reported by the news agency Reuters.
With the return of his elder brother Nawaz, the role Shehbaz will play is not yet defined, but he is believed to share a closer relationship with Pakistan’s military than Nawaz.
As Pakistan gears up for elections, former prime minister Imran Khan is spending the election period inside a jail. Khan has been imprisoned since August and received multi-year bans from taking part in politics following several corruption and criminal charges.
The former captain of the Pakistan cricket team has been denying wrongdoing and has blamed the country’s powerful generals. The military has denied meddling in the country’s politics.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidates are contesting the polls independently after Pakistan’s Supreme Court upheld the decision of the election commission to deprive his party of its election symbol cricket ‘bat’.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was the country’s foreign minister until a caretaker government took over last year. His mother was assassinated in 2007 during an election campaign, and his father, Asif Ali Zardari, was president of Pakistan from 2008 to 2013.
In the run-up to the polls, Bilawal has been running one of the most prominent campaigns, appearing throughout the country, saying he is focusing on the country’s huge youth population and addressing the impacts of climate change. Though not expected to win outright, his party could play kingmaker.