Support for Imran Khan's party rising

ISLAMABAD • The Pakistani opposition party led by former cricket star Imran Khan is gaining ground in opinion polls ahead of a July 25 general election, with one survey showing it pulling ahead of the ruling party and another showing it only slightly behind.

A survey by Pulse Consultant showed Mr Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, or Pakistan Justice Movement) ahead with the support of 30 per cent of respondents nationwide, compared to 27 per cent for its main rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The Pakistan People's Party (PPP) was at 17 per cent.

A separate nationwide poll by Gallup Pakistan had PML-N on top with 26 per cent, PTI with 25 per cent and the PPP at 16 per cent.

Both polls were commissioned by Pakistan's Jang Media Group and were published on Wednesday in its affiliated newspaper, The News. They each surveyed about 3,000 people, with a margin of error of 1.6 per cent for the Pulse survey and 2 to 3 per cent for Gallup.

The new polls indicate a swing towards Mr Khan's party compared to similar nationwide polls in 2017, which put the PML-N 8 to 9 percentage points ahead of PTI.

Mr Khan's political fortunes have improved since PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif was removed as prime minister by the Supreme Court last year over undeclared assets.

Mr Sharif, who was disqualified from politics for life, now faces a verdict in an anti-corruption court today along with his daughter Maryam, who is running for Parliament. The case, which concerns the purchase of luxury apartments in London, could see Mr Sharif jailed and Ms Maryam disqualified.

Mr Sharif requested on Wednesday that the authorities delay the verdict until he returns to Pakistan from London, where he is taking care of his ailing wife.

Mr Sharif has accused the military and courts of conspiring to oust him and using legal cases and intimidation to help Mr Khan's PTI party, accusations denied by Mr Khan, the army and the judiciary.

Mr Khan, a former cricket captain of Pakistan, has portrayed the legal cases as a long-overdue corruption crackdown on the PML-N.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2018, with the headline 'Support for Imran Khan's party rising'. Print Edition | Subscribe