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Pakistan Elections 2018 Conspiracy Theories

What conspiracy theories are being bandied about in Pakistani media coverage of general elections scheduled for July 25, 2018?

Why are Jang and Dawn, Pakistan's top 2 media houses, promoting Nawaz Sharif and his supporters' narrative?

Is there any evidence of a conspiracy between Pakistan's intelligence agencies and the top judges in the country?

Is the speculation based entirely on history? If these theories are correct, what will be the most likely outcome of these elections? Which party will emerge?  Will it be the "agencies" alleged favorite PTI?

What office would PTI chief Imran Khan want if his party wins? Prime Minister or President? Will possible restoration of article 58-2B of the constitution mean Imran Khan chooses to be president with real power?

Faraz Darvesh, Sabahat Ashraf and Riaz Haq discuss these questions. First streamed live on Facebook on July 21, 2018.

https://youtu.be/xjRHrinZw7Y

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Views: 48

Comment by Riaz Haq on July 23, 2018 at 5:41pm

#Feudal landlords may hold balance of power in nuclear #Pakistan. #Elections2018 #electables #PTI #PMLN #PPP #GDA https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-23/feudal-landlords... via @bpolitics

Near the rural town of Badin in southern Pakistan, about a four-hour drive from the financial capital of Karachi, dozens of men wait through the night for a chance to meet with Zulfiqar Mirza.

The landowner’s family holds sway in a part of Sindh province the size of the U.S. state of Delaware, and villagers go to Mirza for everything from employment to education to settling disputes. One of them, 69-year-old Khalid Hussain, said this month he needed help after being abandoned by his children.

The Mirzas “help people out,” Hussain said while waiting at the family’s 700-acre estate. “I just want a job to feed my stomach.”

Local power brokers like the Mirzas may end up as kingmakers in the nuclear-armed nation after a July 25 election, with polls showing that no single party is likely to win a majority in Pakistan’s parliament. For national politicians, courting large rural landholders known as “electables” is a Catch 22: Their support is essential to win elections in Pakistan, but many also tend to oppose measures like modernizing the country’s labor and tax laws that would boost economic growth in the cash-strapped nation.

For a Quicktake on Pakistan, click here

Known as biradiri, the rural patronage system helps explain why Pakistan scores the lowest in Asia on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index after Afghanistan, North Korea and Cambodia. While urbanization and redistricting has steadily eroded the power of rural politicians, in many areas they still can provide favors, administer justice and even pressure villagers into voting for a certain candidate.

Feudalism is still “very strong” in the countryside, said Mustafa Kamal, the former mayor of Karachi, who heads the urban-focused Pak Sarzameen Party. “The common man does not have that much strength to stand up to the feudal lord -- he will just squeeze him like anything.”

That power structure has come under attack in the election campaign. Imran Khan, a former cricket star who has seen his popularity surge, has sought to rally younger, urban voters by denouncing feudalistic and dynastic parties that still dominate Pakistan’s political scene. Since the 1970s, the country has alternately been ruled by the military, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif, a three-time prime minister serving a jail sentence for corruption.

Protests against landlords and their families have also taken place in cities. During a rally this month in Karachi, the convoy of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari -- head of the Pakistan Peoples Party and son of assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto -- was pelted with stones.

“People are tired of the old guard,” said Ayesha Siddiqa, a research associate at the SOAS South Asia Institute in London. Voters aged 18 to 35 comprise 44 percent of the electorate, she said, and many will likely vote for Khan.

Khan, whose anti-corruption campaign helped spur Sharif’s arrest, has pledged to widen Pakistan’s low tax base and strengthen government institutions. Yet even while railing against feudalism Khan has found it necessary to court key rural politicians, particularly in the breadbasket province of Punjab, which provides more than half the nation’s federal seats.

The Mirza family in Badin is running with the Grand Democratic Alliance, a minority party that hasn’t said who it will back for prime minister after the election. Hasnain Mirza, the 34-year-old son of Zulfiqar, acknowledged his family’s political lineage but also denied it was feudal.

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