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A) Prime Minister Imran Khan

While Imran Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were fairly confident that they would emerge as the largest party in Wednesday’s elections, they could not have imagined that they would make such a strong showing, resulting in Mr. Khan becoming Pakistan’s next Prime Minister. Even some academics, supposedly looking at empirical data, got it very wrong. Although all the results have been neither verified nor notified, and many seats will have to be given up since many contenders, including Mr. Khan who had been leading in all his five constituencies, contested and won from more than one seat, no one is going to dare stand in the way of his greatest, crowning moment. In many cases, the victory margins of the PTI are huge and impressive. The party has even made considerable inroads into former Prime Minister and Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) leader Nawaz Sharif’s fortress of the Punjab, coming a near second. It will probably form government there as well, with many of the Independents and breakaway members. Many key members of the PML(N), including former national and provincial ministers, have been defeated, including in the party’s core constituencies such as Lahore and Faisalabad. The PTI is the first party to be re-elected in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, increasing its seats. Perhaps the biggest shock has been the rout of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in its perceived stronghold, Karachi, where again the PTI has made significant gains.

The establishment’s man

There are a number of reasons why the PTI has won. Some of these are part of Pakistan’s perpetual political economy and are more standard, and there is one possible explanation which is particularly bizarre. It has been clear for many months now that Pakistan’s military establishment, with support from the superior judiciary, did not under any circumstances want Mr. Sharif’s party to win. This establishment went out of its way to ensure that he was disqualified and imprisoned, and that many of his former allies and comrades either joined the PTI or contested as Independents. In southern Punjab, several of Mr. Sharif’s allies abandoned him en masse. Furthermore, the MQM in Karachi was broken up into many groups. There was much prepoll rigging by the military. Independent commentary in the media was controlled and censored and many journalists and media houses were threatened and shut down. Open discussion and those dissenting were threatened in unprecedented ways, reminiscent of Pakistan’s many martial laws. Despite being the military’s favourite representative, Mr. Khan must also be given credit for a forceful campaign. He could not have won without believing that he would. He traversed the country, speaking at multiple events on the same day in different cities. While the leaders of other parties did the same, he was more visible on electronic media and had a huge presence on social media. He was also told that it was important to have winnable candidates and advised to take many dubious candidates into his party who were considered electable. Pakistan’s demography — with a large proportion of young and first-time voters, called ‘youthias’, supporting the PTI — is also likely to have worked in Mr. Khan’s favour this time more than in 2013, given a considerably mauled PML(N).

Another explanation?

There is yet another reason being given for why Mr. Khan won so convincingly. Many months ago, a married woman and a mother of five, Bushra Riaz Wattoo, had a dream. A resident of Pakpattan in the Punjab, Ms. Wattoo was considered to be a pirni (female spiritual guide). She was believed to have been a ‘modern’ woman once who then turned to Sufism. She told her husband that Prophet Muhammad appeared in her dream one day and asked her to get married to Mr. Khan. This would not only remove all the hurdles in Mr. Khan’s way to become Prime Minister but would also eventually usher in a golden era for Pakistan, she said. It was reported in different newspapers at the beginning of this year that Ms. Wattoo met and told Mr. Khan that he would become Prime Minister only if he got married before January 5. It was later disclosed that having divorced her husband, she married Mr. Khan on or around January 1 this year, and by all accounts her prophecy has come through. Mr. Khan has shown himself to be abusive, derogatory, misogynistic, arrogant and dictatorial, all within a few weeks. He has said that feminism degrades motherhood and that liberals ‘seek blood’ and are the most dangerous constituency in Pakistan. At the same time, he has been soft on the Taliban. During his campaign, he stated that he would have a nationalist, anti-U.S. and anti-India foreign policy. He is a born-again Muslim now with a Tasbeeh (rosary) in his hands, a conservative Muslim nationalist who believes in neoliberal economic policies. Since his party has not won a complete majority, he will have to be conciliatory and show a far more inclusive attitude towards other groups in Parliament than he has during his vile campaign. On the day after the elections, seven losing parties called the elections rigged. One senior leader called them “the dirtiest polls in the history of Pakistan”, and the PML(N) rejected the results outright. An all-party conference to discuss the results as well as the next step has been called for Friday. It is possible that the opposition parties may have learnt from the tactics of Mr. Khan in the previous Parliament. First, he did not accept the results, and as the enfant terrible, made much of the claim that the 2013 elections were completely rigged. He took his case to the streets in his famous dharna of 2014, and to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The ECP found almost no rigging during the 2013 elections, and he had to reluctantly accept the results.

In Naya Pakistan

The elections might be over — sordid, controversial and rigged as they have been. It is also very clear that Imran Khan is Pakistan’s next Prime Minister. Whether his wife’s prophecy of Pakistan entering a golden era will come true or not in Naya Pakistan will depend, to start with, on how the Prime Minister-designate handles the immediate expected backlash from the political parties which have lost. Mr. Khan, till now the vitriolic candidate and opposition leader, will have to mature to be a more sobering influence on government and on his many first-time, overly enthusiastic Ministers who are inexperienced in governance, much like himself. Probably the considerable influence of the military and the judiciary on him will go a long way in helping this. Or, perhaps, the current Mrs. Khan’s visions will now guide his and the country’s future.


1) Empirical

Meaning: Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

Example: “they provided considerable empirical evidence to support their argument”

Synonyms: Seen, Actual

Antonyms: Theoretical

2) Given up

Meaning: Cease making an effort; admit defeat.

Example: “he wasn’t the kind of man to give up easily”

Synonyms: Surrender, Capitulate

3) Crowning

Meaning: A crowning event or achievement is the best or most important one.

Example: Walking on the moon was his crowning glory (= his most important achievement).

4) Inroads

Meaning: An instance of something being encroached on or reduced by something else.

Example: “the firm is beginning to make inroads into the UK market”

5) Fortress

Meaning: A person or thing not susceptible to outside influence or disturbance.

Example: “he had proved himself to be a fortress of moral rectitude”

6) Breakaway

Meaning: A secession of a number of people from an organization, resulting in the establishment of a new organization.

Example: “a breakaway group”

Synonyms: Separatist, Secessionist

7) Rout

Meaning: A decisive defeat.

Example: “the party lost more than half their seats in the rout”

Synonyms: Defeat

Antonyms: Victory

8) Perceived

Meaning: Become aware of (something) by the use of one of the senses, especially that of sight.

Example: “he perceived the faintest of flushes creeping up her neck”

Synonyms: See, Recognize

9) Perpetual

Meaning: Never ending or changing.

Example: “deep caves in perpetual darkness”

Synonyms: Eternal, Permanent

Antonyms: Transitory, Temporary

10) Bizarre

Meaning: Very strange or unusual.

Example: “a bizarre situation”

Synonyms: Strange, Peculiar

Antonyms: Ordinary, Normal

11) Judiciary

Meaning: The judicial authorities of a country; judges collectively.

Example: “the independence of the judiciary”

12) Ensure

Meaning: Make certain of obtaining or providing (something).

Example: “legislation to ensure equal opportunities for all”

Synonyms: Protect, Guard

13) Comrades

Meaning: A fellow socialist or communist (often as a form of address).

Example: “‘You’re right, comrade’”

14) En masse

Meaning: If a group of people do something en masse, they do it together and at the same time.

Example: The shop’s 85 workers have resigned en masse.

15) Broken up

Meaning: The coming to an end of a business or personal relationship, caused by the separation of those involved.

Example: The break-up of the pop group came as no surprise.

16) Prepoll

Meaning: Early voting (also called pre-poll voting or advance polling) is a process by which voters in a public election can vote prior to the scheduled election day. Early voting can take place remotely, such as via postal voting, or in person, usually in designated early voting polling stations.

17) Shut down

Meaning: If someone shuts a process down, they stop it.

Example: British authorities finally shut down production at the Liverpool plant of the vaccine maker.

18) Dissenting

Meaning: Hold or express opinions that are at variance with those commonly or officially held.

Example: “two members dissented from the majority”

19) Unprecedented

Meaning: Never done or known before.

Example: “the government took the unprecedented step of releasing confidential correspondence”

Synonyms: Unparalleled, Unequalled

Antonyms: Normal, Common

20) Reminiscent

Meaning: Making you remember a particular person, event, or thing.

Example: That song is so reminiscent of my adolescence.

Synonyms: Remembering, Reminding

21) Traversed

Meaning: Travel across or through.

Example: “he traversed the forest”

Synonyms: Cross, Negotiate

22) Winnable

Meaning: Able to be won or gained.

Example: “a tough but winnable game”

23) Dubious

Meaning: Not to be relied upon; suspect.

Example: “extremely dubious assumptions”

Synonyms: Suspicious, Suspect

Antonyms: Trustworthy, Decisive

24) Mauled

Meaning: To criticize something or someone severely.

Example: Both films were mauled by the critics.

25) Convincingly

Meaning: In a way that causes someone to believe that something is true or real.

Example: “this chapter is not as convincingly argued”

26) Sufism

Meaning: A member of an Islamic religious group that tries to become united with God by living a simple life and by praying and meditating.

27) Usher

Meaning: Cause or mark the start of something new.

Example: “the railways ushered in an era of cheap mass travel”

Synonyms: Herald, Announce

28) Prophecy

Meaning: A prediction of what will happen in the future.

Example: “a bleak prophecy of war and ruin”

Synonyms: Prediction, Forecast

29) Feminism

Meaning: The belief that women should be allowed the same rights, power, and opportunities as men and be treated in the same way, or the set of activities intended to achieve this state.

Example: She had a lifelong commitment to feminism.

30) Neoliberal

Meaning: Supporting a large amount of freedom for markets, with little government control or spending, and low taxes.

Example: Social movements resisting neoliberal economic policies.

31) Conciliatory

Meaning: Intended or likely to placate or pacify.

Example: “a conciliatory approach”

Synonyms: Placatory, Peacemaking

Antonyms: Antagonistic

32) Vile

Meaning: Extremely unpleasant.

Example: “he has a vile temper”

Synonyms: Nasty, Unpleasant

Antonyms: Pleasant

33) Rigged

Meaning: Manage or conduct (something) fraudulently so as to gain an advantage.

Example: “the results of the elections had been rigged”

Synonyms: Manipulate, Influence

34) Outright

Meaning: Directly or openly.

Example: “she couldn’t ask him outright”

Synonyms: Directly, Openly

35) Enfant terrible

Meaning: A famous or successful person who likes to shock people.

Example: In the 70s he was the enfant terrible of the theatre.

36) Reluctantly

Meaning: In an unwilling and hesitant way.

Example: “he reluctantly agrees to do his duty”

37) Backlash

Meaning: A strong negative reaction by a large number of people, especially to a social or political development.

Example: “a public backlash against racism”

Synonyms: Fallout, Reprisal

38) Sobering

Meaning: Make or become more serious, sensible, and solemn.

Example: “his expression sobered her”

Synonyms: Relax, Soften

39) Vitriolic

Meaning: Filled with bitter criticism or malice.

Example: “vitriolic attacks on the politicians”

Synonyms: Bitter, Caustic

Antonyms: Pleasant, Kind

40) Governance

Meaning: The action or manner of governing a state, organization, etc.

Example: “a more responsive system of governance will be required”


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