On Sunday, former Pakistani PM Imran Khan led his party to victory in a set of by-elections that saw him win six out of seven contested National Assembly seats. The seats that were balloted on were some of the eight positions vacated in April, when Khan was forced out of office and his political allies were prompted to resign.
The results are likely to intensify the former PM's calls for early general elections, with Khan arguing they indicate that he - along with the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party he leads - has popular support.
According to PTI officials, Khan doesn't intend to take up any of the winning seats. However, he has promised that he will soon announce the date of a planned "long march" on the capital to pressure the govt. to schedule a national election earlier than the current date of October 2023.
Khan's victory against the ruling multi-party alliance - the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) - comes after PTI's overwhelming victory in July's Punjab by-elections, which saw them secure two of three contested Punjab Assembly seats.
The PTI, however, failed to fulfill expectations that they would sweep Sunday's by-elections as the party lost seats from the Multan and Malir districts of Karachi to the ruling coalition. Furthermore, despite massive campaigning from both sides, voter turnout remained low in several constituencies.
The former PM and his party are also facing legal, as well as political challenges. On Monday, Khan was granted interim bail until Oct. 31 by a special court in a case over prohibited funding that was filed against him and other senior party leaders. The politicians stand accused of submitting false affidavits to the electoral commission.
Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by Pakistan Today. The Pakistani people have made it clear that they support Khan and reject the current, foreign-imposed government. It's now time for usurpers to concede their failure and comply with the national call for general elections. If they are not given this democratic right, the people of Pakistan are ready to take to the streets.
Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Nation. State institutions were used to attack Khan's rivals during his term, but he now claims that he had no decision-making power during his tenure and even alleges that he is the one being persecuted. Although these by-elections suggest that Khan's lies and accusations have been successful at retaining his support base, the continuation of PTI power in politics will bring no good to Pakistan.