Conflict & Justice

Pakistan elections: Imran Khan surges in polls


Over 100,000 people rallied in support of Imran Khan in Pakistan's port city of Karachi, boosting his image as a rising political force.


Asif Hassan

Imran Khan, the cricket-star-turned politician and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has seen a surge in polls ahead of the country's historic vote Saturday.

Nawaz Sharif, a former prime minister who was ousted in a military coup and then exiled, looks set to win the most seats, but Khan's popularity could upset the balance of parliament and cause a struggle to form a coalition government. 

An earlier poll conducted by the Pew Research Center on Tuesday found Sharif had a 66 percent approval rating, the highest of any public figure in Pakistan. In that poll, Khan was six percentage points behind Sharif, but still called the "only real electoral threat" to Sharif.

Friday's poll was released as several election offices were bombed in northwest Pakistan, leaving three people dead and at least 15 injured. 

It is still unclear which parties or politicians were the targets of the attack, as several political offices occupy the block of Miran Shah in the Taliban-stronghold of Waziristan, where the blasts occurred. 

More from GlobalPost: Pakistan election: Will the violence end?

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombings, but the Taliban has taken the blame for most of the attacks launched against party workers and candidates since the beginning of April, which have left 130 people dead. 

“What right do Taliban have to steer this election?” said Qalandar Bux Memon, who held a discussion Friday about the upcoming elections at his Cafe Bol. 

The main office of the secular Pakistan People's Party in Quetta was also bombed on Friday, and five people were hurt. 

More from GlobalPost: The 44 percent: Will women turn Pakistan's political tide?

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