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Monday Briefing: Pakistan’s Stunning Election Results

Monday Briefing: Pakistan’s Stunning Election Results


Candidates aligned with the party of the imprisoned former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan won the most seats in Pakistan’s parliamentary elections, despite the military’s efforts to suppress support.

The stunning performance humiliated the country’s powerful generals, upended most political forecasts and created a political crisis. Now, uncertainty looms large.

Khan’s supporters are electrified. But they are also enraged by what they call blatant rigging, and are challenging dozens of results. Protests have erupted and many more are planned as pressure grows on the country’s Election Commission to acknowledge widely reported irregularities in the vote counting.

Khan’s supporters are also bracing for the possibility that other parties may ultimately lead the government. Preliminary results suggested that his supporters did not score a full majority, and that they would need to form a coalition to rule. The military’s preferred party — the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif — is exploring ways to take control through alliances.

The military: The wave of discontent with the meddling in politics will most likely put pressure on the army chief, Gen. Syed Asim Munir. He must now decide whether to reconcile with Khan or force a coalition of Khan’s opponents, one that many believe would be weak and unsustainable.

The campaign: From behind bars, Khan rallied his supporters with speeches that used A.I. to replicate his voice, tapping into an internet-savvy youth bulge that is rewriting the country’s politics.


Donald Trump suggested at a rally this weekend that he would incite Russia to attack “delinquent” U.S. allies: Not only would he not defend member countries he deemed to be in arrears from an attack by Russia, he said, but he would also go so far as to “encourage” Russia “to do whatever the hell they want” against them.

The stunning statements could foreshadow fundamental changes in the world order if Trump wins re-election this year. Never before has a U.S. president — even a former one — suggested that he would incite an enemy to attack the country’s closest allies.

His statements also raised uncomfortable questions about his odd affinity for President Vladimir Putin of Russia — and revived his longstanding frustration with the alliance. As president, he undermined NATO by strong-arming members into keeping their commitments to spend more on their militaries with the threat that he would not help otherwise.

Stakes: If the U.S. cannot be counted on to help its European allies, then other countries with mutual security agreements — like Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Panama — can hardly be sure of its help, either.


Israeli airstrikes in Rafah and other parts of southern Gaza killed more than two dozen people this weekend, ahead of a widely expected ground offensive there. More than half of Gaza’s 2.2 million people are now sheltering in the city, and do not know where else to go.

Nutmeg was once so valuable that, in 1667, the Dutch traded Manhattan for Pulau Rhun, a tiny isle in Indonesia where it was grown. Today there is little trace of the wealth it generated: Rhun has 2,000 people, no high school, spotty cell service and no air-conditioning.

The Australia Letter: Some former Australian officials are trying to bring Beijing and Washington together, seeking to build on common interests and de-escalate tensions.

Nothing brings together more Americans than the Super Bowl. The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will start about two-and-a-half hours after we send this newsletter. The Morning has a guide.

The teams: The Chiefs have reached the Super Bowl in four of the past five seasons, but have faltered recently. The 49ers played great in the regular season, but have looked beatable in the playoffs. Our experts expect the Chiefs to triumph.

The halftime show: The R&B star Usher will perform, and he has hinted that he may be joined by architects of the genre.

Taylor Swift: She’ll probably be there to cheer on her boyfriend, Travis Kelce, who plays for the Chiefs. She just performed in Japan, where her fans’ enthusiasm clashed with local sensibilities.

Ratings: Swift’s presence could drive up viewership and help the Super Bowl break the 1982 record for the highest proportion of Americans watching: 49 percent.



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