AS A fast bowler, Imran Khan made rival batsmen quake and led Pakistan to victory in the Cricket World Cup in 1992. As a politician, he is thundering towards the election on July 25th and appears to be on the point of scoring another famous victory. Polls suggest his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), may emerge as the largest; and Mr Khan may well become the country’s next prime minister.
Yet, as a pukka sportsman, can Mr Khan really be happy? Although he and Pakistan’s army deny foul play, the match has been rigged. The army is ensuring that the PTI enjoys privileged access to media, endorsements from powerful people and defections from rival parties. Nawaz Sharif, a three-term former prime minister, and his daughter, Maryam, were arrested as they stepped off a plane from London on July 13th. A campaign of harassment and arrest has affected other parties’ workers far more than the PTI’s. More murkily, the others have also suffered assassination attempts and terrorist attacks, among them a suicide-bomb that killed 149 people at a rally for a local party in Mastung, in Balochistan, on July 13th.
Get our daily newsletter
The generals have long pulled the strings of Pakistani politics. But rarely, short of taking power themselves, have they meddled so brazenly. Pakistan’s miserable failure to develop a stable democracy compares ever more starkly with the rude progress of its arch-rival, India.
The khaki umpire
Whether in the 1970s in the era of Zulfikar Ali…