A European Union (EU) monitoring team present for Pakistan’s general election, which saw the victory of cricket legend-turned-politician Imran Khan this week, said on Friday that the campaign for the election was not a level playing field for all the political parties that participated in the race.
Khan also appeared to take a stronger stance against the United States during his victory speech.
“Although there were several legal provisions aimed at ensuring a level playing field, we have concluded that there was a lack of equality and (of) opportunity,” Michael Gahler, chief observer of the EU Election Observation Mission, said, according to Reuters.
Khan’s victory was reportedly denounced by many of his political rivals as being rigged and for receiving help from Pakistan’s powerful military. According to Reuters, jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif—whose political party is called the Pakistan Muslim League—has said elements of the powerful military suppressed its campaign and made accusations of rigging during the counting process after Wednesday’s vote.
On Friday, the AFP reported that Khan won the election despite having fallen short of an outright majority.
Now, Khan’s party, the Tehreek-e-Insaf (which means “Pakistan Movement for Justice“ in Urdu), is now tasked with forming a coalition government and appointing Khan as the nation’s prime minister.
Despite calls of corruption from his rivals, Khan said, “I will prove that we can fix our governance system,” in his Thursday victory speech. He added, “All our policies will be aimed to help the weakest members of our society.”
Pakistan’s economy is in dire straits. According to the Wall Street Journal, “[M]any experts believe brakes will have to be put on the economy to stop sucking in so many imports, which could undermine his pledge to create 10 million jobs.”
During his speech, Khan also took a tougher stance against the United States. He reportedly called for a new, “mutually beneficial” relationship with America that takes a turn away from the 2001 partnership brokered between both nations to work against terrorism. “Unfortunately up to now, our relationship has been one-way. America pays Pakistan for fighting its war, which has really damaged Pakistan,” Khan said.
Khan also called for the United States to withdraw from Afghanistan. However, it is likely that the Trump administration will continue with the policy of enhancing America’s military presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been vital to that role.
An unnamed U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal that it welcomes an opportunity to work with Khan’s new government “to advance our goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia.”