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The Rise, and Fall, and Rise Again of Imran Khan, Pakistan’s young people to turn out to vote and rebuff the country’s powerful military, New York times

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Rise Again of Imran Khan

The Rise, and Fall, and Rise Again of Imran Khan, Pakistan’s young people to turn out to vote and rebuff the country’s powerful military. New York times

Rise Again of Imran Khan

When the Pakistani government imposed restrictions on media, the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan turned to TikTok for campaign videos. In response to police restrictions on rallies, they organized virtual gatherings. Even when Mr. Khan was incarcerated, his supporters used artificial intelligence to emulate his voice in speeches.

Mr. Khan’s message resonated with millions frustrated by Pakistan’s economic crisis and entrenched political dynasties. He argued that the country had been in decline for decades, and only he could restore its former greatness.

In a surprising turn of events in last week’s election, candidates aligned with Mr. Khan’s party secured more parliamentary seats than any other, marking a significant upset in Pakistani politics. Since Mr. Khan’s ousting by Parliament in 2022 following a falling out with the military, his supporters faced a military-led crackdown aiming to sideline him.

This success represents the first instance in recent Pakistani history where the military’s longstanding political strategy to maintain power has deviated. It also highlights how Mr. Khan’s populist rhetoric and the tech-savvy youth population are reshaping politics in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation with a history of military coups.

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As both Mr. Khan’s and Nawaz Sharif’s parties race to secure lawmakers and form a coalition government, Pakistan is navigating uncharted territory. If Mr. Khan’s party manages to lead a civilian government, it would be the first time in Pakistan’s history that a party at odds with the military, with its leader in jail, holds power.

Regardless of the outcome, Mr. Khan’s party has demonstrated an enduring political presence, tapping into the discontent of Pakistan’s youth. Social media and youth mobilization, rather than the outdated political playbook, are now key factors, according to Adam Weinstein, deputy director of the Middle East program at the Quincy Institute in Washington.

For about half of Pakistan’s history, the military has directly governed the country. When civilian governments did come to power, they were typically led by a few leaders, including Mr. Sharif, who often gained support from the military.

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