Imran Khan at a press conference in Islamabad, July 2018.
Athit Perawongmetha / Reuters

Newcomers to Pakistani politics greeted the outcome of Wednesday’s general election—an apparent victory for former cricket star Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party—with optimism. They were quick to note that Pakistani authorities focused on increasing female participation, both as candidates and as voters. (Although women have had the right to vote since the country came into existence in 1947, cultural norms have often denied them the right to cast their ballots.) The Wall Street Journal gushed that Khan’s apparent victory will “break the country’s two-party system.” Others wondered whether his election will have salubrious effects on Pakistan’s shambolic economy, foreign policy, or internal security.

Those of us who have watched Pakistan for decades, however, viewed the election with a more jaundiced eye. It was marked by appalling levels of electoral violence, including an election day suicide bombing in Quetta that killed at least 31. Second, the

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  • C. CHRISTINE FAIR is a Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is the author of Fighting to the End: The Pakistan Army's Way of War
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