Imran Khan gains in Pakistan, haggling over government expected

Published: May 10, 2013
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Supporters of Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan prepare a venue of an election campaign meeting. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Supporters of Pakistani politician and former cricketer Imran Khan prepare a venue of an election campaign meeting. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: Former Pakistan cricket star Imran Khan’s party was enjoying a late surge of support on Friday, the eve of a landmark election, raising the prospect of a fragmented parliament that could lead to weeks of haggling to form a coalition government.

The failure of other parties to capture a commanding lead raises the risk a weak government will emerge, clouding optimism over the first transition between civilian governments in a country that has been ruled by the military for more than half its history.

In a sign of Imran’s popularity, 35,000 supporters turned up on Thursday at a rally in Islamabad that he didn’t even attend.

The 60-year-old is in hospital after suffering injuries in a fall from a mechanical lift at a rally this week, which may also win him sympathy votes.

“While Imran was initially handicapped by the lack of party organisation and the absence of a formal presence at the provincial level, he managed to overcome these challenges by establishing a network of volunteers who have campaigned frenetically and held massive public rallies in recent weeks,” said Shamila Chaudhary, senior editor at Eurasia Group.

Imran, Pakistan’s most well-known sportsmen who led a playboy lifestyle in his younger days, has emerged as a tough challenger to dynastic politicians who have relied heavily on a patronage system to win votes and are often accused of corruption.

Campaigning officially ended at midnight on Thursday.

Election-related violence that has killed more than 110 people continued on the eve of the vote.

Five people were killed in bomb attacks on party offices on Friday, one in Quetta, capital of the southwestern province of Balochistan, and the other in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The al Qaeda-linked Pakistan Taliban, which regards the elections as un-Islamic, are responsible for the attacks that have made this the country’s bloodiest election yet, and on Thursday they revealed plans for suicide bombings on polling day.

“Fractured mandate” warning

Imran, who appeals mostly to young, urban voters, has won support by calling for an end to corruption, a new political landscape and a halt to US drone strikes on Pakistani soil.

Early opinion polls had put the share of votes for Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party as low as single figures.

However, a survey released on Wednesday showed 24.98 percent of voters nationally planned to vote for his party, just a whisker behind former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N).

The Herald magazine poll showed Sharif’s party remained the front-runner in Punjab, which, with the largest share of parliamentary seats, usually dictates the outcome of elections.

It also pointed to an upset for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which led the last government, placing it in third place.

The political landscape has long been dominated by the PML-N and the PPP, whose co-chairman is President Asif Ali Zardari, widower of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.

“The PPP didn’t take care of the poor masses and always engages in corrupt practices whenever they come to power,” said Sher Nabi, a banker from Peshawar.

“So we’ve decided to vote for the PTI candidate this time and test Imran Khan to see if proves as honest as he claims.”

Sharif, who was prime minister twice in the 1990s, has said he would reconsider Pakistan’s support for the US war on militancy and promote free-market economics if he won.

He has warned that any coalition politics would paralyse policy-making.

“Whichever party wins, it needs to have a very clear majority for it to have the necessary policies to deal with the serious challenges the country faces, for the state to have a strong writ,” he told the Dawn newspaper.

“A fractured mandate, a split mandate, would be worse than the last five years.”

While the outgoing PPP made history by becoming the first civilian government to serve a full five-year term, it failed to tackle a dizzying array of problems.

The economy is feeble and may need another International Monetary Fund bailout to stay afloat. Chronic power cuts can last more than 10 hours a day in some places, crippling key industries like textiles and enraging ordinary people.

After months of campaigning, political parties may now become enmeshed in negotiations that might only delay the huge task of putting the nuclear-armed country on the right track.

“While a hung parliament is a possibility given the expected fractured outcome of polling, it is the least desirable outcome for all parties,” said analyst Chaudhary.

“It would lead to an unstable minority government that could conceivably be led by PML-N, PPP, or even PTI, inevitably leading to another round of elections that, given physical and financial requirements, the full range of parties would rather avoid.”

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Reader Comments (67)

  • Ali-PTI
    May 10, 2013 - 1:46PM

    BYE BYE PPP & PMLN! We can’t tolerate you further. Welcome PTI

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  • Syed A. Mateen
    May 10, 2013 - 1:47PM

    Imran Khan and PTI is the last hope of survival of Pakistan.

    Tomorrow, every single voter will be out from his or her residence to vote for Imran Khan and for PTI to change the stale system of Pakistan.

    Tomorrow the corruption is going to come to an end.

    The sun rise of May 12, 2013 is going to bring a new message and the message will be:

    “YES THERE IS A LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL”.

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  • Buttler
    May 10, 2013 - 1:54PM

    INSHALLAH PTI will end this FAMILY limited politics of PPP, PML N and others…

    IMRAN KHAN all the way… ALLAH MINA KAMYABI DAI…we want NAYA PAKSITAN

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  • Cyber Warrior
    May 10, 2013 - 1:57PM

    I was personally present over there in the rally and I guess the total rally count was much more than 35000. It was first political rally i attended and the junoon of people was beyond description….
    I guess he will win much more seats then expected in shaa Allah

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  • Sarmad
    May 10, 2013 - 2:04PM

    35,000 supporters turned up

    really or did you miss a zero in the end?

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  • Queen
    May 10, 2013 - 2:05PM

    Please correct the spelling of ‘frantically’ in this article.

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  • umar
    May 10, 2013 - 2:07PM

    it was over 80,000 people…would u ever tell the trut ?

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  • joker 787
    May 10, 2013 - 2:18PM

    35k??? seriously?? ET thinks those were 35k people?? …Do i need to say anything else?….those were more then 300k to 400k people…looked twice the size of tahir ul qadri jalsa

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  • PTI
    May 10, 2013 - 2:18PM

    PTI will win Inshallah..

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  • Tim
    May 10, 2013 - 2:21PM

    Why is everyone quoting the Herald survey that was done in March? Anyhow, we’ll find out tomorrow.

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  • Lahori
    May 10, 2013 - 2:22PM

    1 day to NAYA PAKISTAN!!!

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  • Stranger
    May 10, 2013 - 2:23PM

    I hope IK wins. He deserves a chance.

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  • Nauman Achakzai
    May 10, 2013 - 2:28PM

    35000 ? ET is having PTI fever, poor ET bashing PTI & Khan all the time cannot digest how much support PTI has gained.

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  • exPTI
    May 10, 2013 - 2:30PM

    There are no angels and one should not expect angels. Change is name of a process, continuity of system in which institutions & individuals get reformed.
    Don’t vote in reaction or hatred. Vote for those who are experienced, better of the lot & can deliver on issues. Country and its multi-pronged crisis can’t afford any experiment. Vote against confusion & division and Vote for the better team & for a strong govt free of allies’ blackmailing to deal with all challenges. vote for PMLN

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  • Mohammad Ali Siddiqui
    May 10, 2013 - 2:36PM

    Imran Khan and PTI is rising like any thing in Pakistan.

    In my life, this will be the second biggest rising of any political party, i.e. PTI in 2013.

    A similar rise was given by the voters to Mr. Bhutto of PPP in early 70’s election.

    While Imran Khan and PTI is stepping in, the family politics in Pakistan is coming to its logical end.

    Bravo, voters of Pakistan. You people are in the making. God Bless You. AMEEN.

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  • The Khan- Waterloo, Ontario
    May 10, 2013 - 2:45PM

    Going all the way from Canada to Pakistan for Immy bhai

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  • Fareed
    May 10, 2013 - 2:50PM

    People plz, read first, its a Reuters report not ET

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  • exPMLN
    May 10, 2013 - 3:00PM

    @exPTI & @ET: LOL. We are laughing at you, laughing all the way to the vote bank. I. Khan. Naya Pakistan. Insha-Allah.

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  • Adnan Khan
    May 10, 2013 - 3:01PM

    I do not want this to be like 1987 world cup, where we all though that we will win and than lost. Imran was heart broken after 1987 world cup lost and it took some persuading to convince him for 1992 world cup. I could still imagine that most of the people did feel doing anything after 1987 loss. But that was cricket and wounds soon healed. This trouble is that these elections are more than a cricket match, if we lose this time the wounds will get deeper and deeper. We cannot afford to lose this time, so please come out of your houses and vote for PTI as if we did not win on 11 May than there might be no 25 March 1992.

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  • Tj
    May 10, 2013 - 3:09PM

    Please people the source of this article is reuters not ET, so 35,000 is an understatement which reuters are showing

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  • Max
    May 10, 2013 - 3:14PM

    @The Khan- Waterloo, Ontario: Welcome home buddy and our utmost respect for responsible voters like you :)

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  • sami s
    May 10, 2013 - 3:18PM

    @exPMLN:
    keep laughing. at election day you will cry when pmln will clean sweep

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  • Abid
    May 10, 2013 - 3:25PM

    34890 users were there on the PTI live video link only….

    It was a crowd of above 80000 on the D chownk easily. Express should learn to show real figures. Grow up guys….

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  • The Sane Voice
    May 10, 2013 - 3:26PM

    There’s a really annoying trend in the media to not smell the coffee. Whereas in developed nations such as USA, the whole we want change movement was positively talked about in the media AS IT HAPPENED, there was a complete blackout as far as the silent surge of PTI was concerned.

    PTI did everything right and they did it in a poor developing nation i.e. mobilizing people via social media, collecting donations of any amount to finance their campaign and creating an army of volunteers to get people out to vote. Except being Pakistan, we cannot give people the fair credit for the solid work they have put up. Kudos to Khan for doing it with absolutely no support from the media whatsoever about the prospects of his hard work. All he has gotten so far is ridicule, doubt and more hate from the press.

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  • aslam
    May 10, 2013 - 3:26PM

    i was there tooo it was over 35 k .. get your figures right and publish teh truth next time

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  • Raza
    May 10, 2013 - 3:30PM

    Bhutto let us down, Khan wont!!!!!!!!

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  • Hassan
    May 10, 2013 - 3:33PM

    35,000?? I would like to know how ET reported this number? Look at the photos taken from a distance and use simple math for an estimated – there were over 200k. I am a personal witness.

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  • The Sane Voice
    May 10, 2013 - 4:20PM

    Any reasonable person would put the number for a crowd packing a 3KM by 100 feet stretch of road to be well over 200,000…but then this is Pakistani media we are dealing with…..

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  • Ali
    May 10, 2013 - 4:25PM

    35k? Are you kidding me? Easily 200k plus.

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  • May 10, 2013 - 4:26PM

    35K Seriously ? I believe they were not more than 20K.

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  • Iqbal Hadi Zaidi
    May 10, 2013 - 4:35PM

    I was impressed by Imran personality when he was here in 1991 and 92. I played my part in collecting funds for his cancer hospital. I am honored to be the only person with him to attend lunch hosted by son of present Amir of Kuwait and meeting President, Asia Olympics. Had he not been injured he had addressed many more gatherings and electrified additional thousand people to vote for PTI. Mian Nawaz pulled thousands in his rallies but he has looted millions as exposed by Mubashar Luqman, Anchor of Khara Such program of ARY Tv but Imran hasn’t looted any money and yet he pulled more crowd than Mian is very much meaningful. Imran is new entrant while Mian is dug in for many years.I am one of those who not only wish but pray that he should be our PM. Don’t forget his words uttered from his bed hospital ‘ day after tomorrow at same time we will offering namaze shukrana’ inshaallah,aamen.
    Iqbal Hadi Zaidi / Kuwait / Mobile (00965)66229897 / iqbalhadizaidi.formerdiplomat@hotmail.com

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  • Sunoo Na Sunoo
    May 10, 2013 - 4:37PM

    PPP is still in the race as PTI and PML-N split the vote. On its own it won’t be possible for PTI to win a parliamentary majority to form a government on its own and given Imran’s political pronouncements and political stance he would have to make a U-Turn to coalesce with PPP or PML-N, which in all likelihood he would not. Therefore, the greater likelihood is for the PML-N and PPP again forming a coalition government and PTI becoming a strong opposition to cash in on the failure of the next government. Imran Khan cannot win a majority now and he should prepare for the future. But even in the future, he would need the help of some other “revolutionary” parties, which do not exist now but which the circumstances of failed government(s) are likely to produce in the future. A genuine people’s revolution such as, seen in the current Middle East or Eastern Europe in the 1980’s, is still some time into the future. For the majority of people, ‘tang amad ba jang amad’ (driven to the wall and thus must fight) lies in the future.

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  • Pakistani
    May 10, 2013 - 4:51PM

    @The Khan- Waterloo, Ontario:
    Welcome Janab. I know my friends are travelling from London and Dubai to vote pti. Revolution in the making tomorrow.

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    May 10, 2013 - 5:07PM

    PTI trolls.. Get ready for shock and chest beating. Don’t blame on rigging.Recommend

  • Ayesha Bhaalay
    May 10, 2013 - 5:07PM

    Nasty journalism at its best ET. 35k???
    I was there, easily more than 200,000 to 300,000.

    Or did you guys do all the reporting from inside your office cubicles??

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  • Mohammad Hassan
    May 10, 2013 - 5:09PM

    Pakistan’s saver on the earth is only BALLA. Long live Imran & PTI

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  • asim
    May 10, 2013 - 5:13PM

    Its clear violation of laws of ECP as well as constitution.
    Imran can not contest polls under article 62/63.

    IF THE SC is sincere in upholding supremacy of law then they should act or else release General Mushraff. Law should be same for all.

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  • Asad
    May 10, 2013 - 5:16PM

    Inshallah- Naya Pakistan !

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  • waqas
    May 10, 2013 - 5:19PM

    @joker 787:
    I was there and the stretch was from D chowk to China chowk .. fully packed … and i second you it was more than 3 lac people there.

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  • Zain
    May 10, 2013 - 5:27PM

    You can calculate the approximate number of attendees by road surface area covered by a packed crowd. If it was a stretch of road 3km to 4km by 100feet wide, mathematically you can find out 3km = 3000m which is approx. 9000feet. By multiplying 9,000feet Long with 100 feet wide road, that is 900,000 square feet. One person can stand on 4 square feet (2 feet wide 2 feet long area) easily, so that gives a figure of at least 225,000 people. Why don’t people like to use math in Pakistan, for practical purposes. I Went to school both in US and in Pakistan, while in Pakistan it was all about memorizing things, but in US the teachers made everything fun to learn, and made it practical by giving the mathematics examples and how to apply it in real life, as I shown above, Try it, its fun.

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  • Fareed
    May 10, 2013 - 5:38PM

    A responsible and logical person would first read the source and the comment – just because it is on the ET website doesnot mean its ET source. ppl plz zzz

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  • lodhi
    May 10, 2013 - 5:47PM

    What I observed from last three weeks, PTI is a media hype noting else. Media want to earn more money because other parts campaign in a traditional manner. Media is no getting much benefit from them, they want someone to boost their industry, and Imran fulfill their need.Tomorrow you will see all the facebook, twitter and others uers will disappoint, because actual politics is something else. Media do the same in the Jamshad Dasti situation. people are aware of their intention. Other parts voter are silent voters, because they are mature.
    much cry but little wool

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  • saad
    May 10, 2013 - 5:59PM

    “In a sign of Imran’s popularity, 35,000 supporters turned up on Thursday at a rally in Islamabad that he didn’t even attend.”
    Whattt? It was 100,000 strong. I was personally there

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  • lodhi
    May 10, 2013 - 5:59PM

    I am from Mardan, there is 3 NA seats and 8 PA seats, and PTI is not wining any of them. The race is among ANP, PLM-N, PPPP and JUI. Imran is talking about clean sweep. He should be realistic not indulging himelf just seening twenty to twenty five thousand people around him.

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  • Now or Never
    May 10, 2013 - 6:20PM

    @lodhi:
    Then please go out and make sure your vote counts. Do people in Mardan really want a repeat of the last 5 years, same faces! Please encourage your friends and family to vote. Dont give up…

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  • Now or Never
    May 10, 2013 - 6:24PM

    Dont give up. please go out and canvas, please try your very best to save Pakistan, bring new faces, hope. You can do it, get some friends together and canvas your friend and family for PTI…Dont give up, you can do it…Pakistan Zindabad

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  • I am a Khan
    May 10, 2013 - 6:25PM

    I am surprised that PML- N is still in the lead on polls. Terrible. Shows the mentality of people. PML-N’s ethnic politics of ‘Jag Punjabi Jag’ seems to be very popular with the people…sad.

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  • Hassaan
    May 10, 2013 - 6:27PM

    35,000 ??? give me a break !

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  • Ali Ahmed
    May 10, 2013 - 6:28PM

    InshALLAH we all are going to witness a new era tomorrow. Imran Khan We Support You….!!

    It’s not about the losing or wining. I’m going to cast my vote for PTI irrespective of their winning or losing because It’s a cause and we should all support it and when I’ll grew old I will tell my grand children that I was the part of CHANGE…..!!

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  • Ayesha Bhaalay
    May 10, 2013 - 6:34PM

    lodhi said:

    Other parts voter are silent voters, because they are mature.
    “much cry but little wool “

    OH, are you sure the people who voted for the parties that ruled and destroyed Pakistan for last 5 years are mature? Caz there was ANP in KPK, PMLN In Punjab and PPP in center and they all joined hands to destroy pakistan all the last 5 years. Why is there 18 hours loadshedding daily today after their 5 years successful rule of the parties that your ‘mature’ silent voters selected?

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  • Enlightened
    May 10, 2013 - 6:36PM

    The latest TTP warning to disrupt elections on 11 May indicates that the threat has been issued to ensure a lower turn out which would certainly help Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN than PTI. It can be well deduced that TTP prefers Nawaz to Imran for furtherance of its objective to enforce sharia in Pakistan. Imran Khan’s PTI is on the higher pedestal but needs higher turn out of young voters to ensure complete victory. Following is my assessment on Pak elections-

    * 60 % and more turn out- Likely win for PTI

    * 45 % to 60 % turn out- Hung Parliament

    * less than 45 % turn out- Likely win for PMLN
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  • Ussi
    May 10, 2013 - 6:53PM

    “Imran, Pakistan’s most well-known sportsmen who led a playboy lifestyle in his younger days”

    I’ve never seen anything similar written about other politicians- Bhutto, Benazir, Nawaz Sharif.

    I have come to finally believe your paper is biased!

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  • John the Baptist
    May 10, 2013 - 7:20PM

    @Ch. Allah Daad:

    Have you booked your flight to Jeddah yet? Do it now before there is a stampede.

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  • Pakistani
    May 10, 2013 - 7:21PM

    It is simply impossible to win a two-third majority in this country due to numerous parties fighting for elections. So to form a government PTI,PML(N) are bound to form a coalition government either together or with other parties like PPP. Now the question is, are the over-zealous supporters of so-called NAYA PAKISTAN ready to stand with IK if he, in given circumstances, go for a coalition government with any party as your beloved IK has already stated that they will not join hands with any party but will sweep the elections which is, my brothers, quite impossible.

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  • Longislander
    May 10, 2013 - 7:40PM

    The next time Imran addresses the nation, he will be the Prime Minister of Pakistan not the chairman of PTI. Remember as IK said, don’t vote for cast, ethnicity, only vote for idelogy, the idelogy of Imran Khan, the ideology of Qauid-e-Azam, the ideology of Naya Pakistan Inshallah. and a special message for my Karachi people. please go and vote along with your families. Don’t think that ur vote will not make any difference. Yes It will because everybody will be voting for BALLA on May 11.

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  • Ahmad
    May 10, 2013 - 7:57PM

    @Queen: frenetically is another word not a misspelt frantically.

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  • lodhi
    May 10, 2013 - 8:13PM

    Mardan and Sawabi is not to PTI because I know to whom they will vote ANP did a lot of work in Mardan. Imran is tell you new pakistan. We have alread new and better Mardan. Then why we should vote PTI. We know they will do more work if they came in power, because they are our people. They know our culture and values. What Imran know about us. We do not need slogans. Now people are not voting for outsiders, especially whom come from Punjab. Now we are mature, and understand things better than before. No outsider just local. We have an example of Mardan in front of us. That’s why no PTI, No PLMN, No PPPP just ANP.

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  • lodhi
    May 10, 2013 - 8:21PM

    I do not believe on Imran slogans because he should have gotten treatment form goverment hospital not from shaukat khanum hospital. He understand this is his own hospital, but the fact is something else. I always supported him but not know. He did the same that othes do.
    I am sorry no PTI.

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  • AG
    May 10, 2013 - 9:01PM

    35000 reallllllyyyy…………….

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  • Now or Never
    May 11, 2013 - 2:19AM

    @lodhi:
    I respect your right to have your opinions. I wish I could somehow persuade you to change your mind.

    Please try to think beyond Mardan – think of Pakistan. When the refugees came from Swat and siught refuse in Mardan, I came back to Pakistan and came to Mardan to distribute aid – all I cared about was that these people were Pakistanis – I did not care where they came from.

    Think of who is the best national leader to help bring a better tomorrow for all Pakistani kids….

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  • Raja
    May 11, 2013 - 4:05AM

    PTI Will Win In’Sha’ALLAH Or Bane Ga Ek Naya Pakistan…!!!

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  • Hasnain Ali
    May 11, 2013 - 4:59AM

    Imran Khan is Taliban-apologist. His party was part of the rally by banned sectarian organizations
    http://pakistanblogzine.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/pti-vice-president-ejaz-chaudhry-attends-difa-e-pakistan-rally-in-karachi-along-with-sectarian-terrorists/

    His party is full of political turncoats http://saleemsafi.com/urdu-columns/naya-pakistan-aur-nayi-tehreek-e-insaaf/ while the PTI Disinformation cell continues to pounce false information and celebrity’s fake endorsements (all these celebrities have independently repudiated PTI’s claims)

    We don’t want this change on the side of Lotas, ASWJ and LeJ.

    QuaidKaPakistan

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  • May 11, 2013 - 12:07PM

    Pakistan’s youth will make a change for A NAYA PAKISTAN and inshallah tried and tested politicians will have to be binned if Pakistan wants a better future. Imran Khan is a man of integrity, respect, humulity and character and only he can bring CHANGE and improve the reputation of PAKISTAN. Please Pakistanis don’t let a few thousand rupees, dished out by other parties, bring the thieves back again. Be honest to yourselves for once and vote for IMRAN KHAN or you will be sorry forever for missing this historic opportunity. I wish Pakistan’s poor a better future, Ameen. Remember only IMRAN KHAN can bring you hope and change. LONG LIVE IMRAN KHAN AND PTI.

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  • Reaz Hassan
    May 11, 2013 - 10:40PM

    With all his faults, before a veteran politician like Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan will fall flat. No haggling or bargain counter will be needed to form a Nawaz government at the center. Imran tried hard but it is a different and difficult game than cricket bat and ball.People still go for the old wine, and Nawaz has his own charisma.Recommend

  • goodDeedsLeadTo
    May 12, 2013 - 2:36AM

    Pakistanis got it what they deserve, corrupt leaders with huge offshore ownership & no disclosures, loan defaulters. Both NS & Zardari have huge offshore family ownerships, and spent 5 years of rule protecting each other.

    Imran Khan would have taken out the corrupt & removed corruption by putting clean people to lead institutions, and bringing the corrupt to accountability without discrimination,.

    Imran Khan alone has the financial integrity to rule by his own example, and raise huge funds through due taxation, increase tax to GDP ratio within a year.

    Imran Khan would have taken Pakistan away from dependence on IMF & America, and launch an independent foreign policy.

    I hope Imran Khan gets enough vote to at lest put an end to the practice of friendly oppositions, that Noon gave to PPP over the last 5 years rule.

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  • Water Bottle
    May 12, 2013 - 8:27AM

    Imran Khan would have done this. Imran Khan would have done that. Imran Khan will bring naya pakistan. Imran Khan will clean sweep. Imran Khan will end this problem. Imran Khan will end that problem.

    Pakistan has shown a great deal of maturity in electing Nawaz.

    Good on you Pakistan!!

    Nawaz won’t bring any revolution, miracle. Nobody can. But in the next five years, I’m sure he will bring stability to the country, show the army-ISI its rightful place and definitely have a sensible foriegn policy.

    He will not crush extremism or terrorism. But I am hoping that he will keep his word and try to contain the terrorists that are attacking India and Afghanistan. If he at least succeeds in stopping further power going to the terrorists, he has done a great service to Pakistan.Recommend

  • Pasha
    May 12, 2013 - 9:10AM

    Sorry. It didn’t work out. The Tsunami fizzled!

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