A by-election this week in Pakistan’s second-largest city, Lahore, shows undercurrents of change and possible upheaval in the ruling party that could impact general elections next year. A low voter turnout also suggests that governing and opposition parties alike have an uphill battle to sell their narratives to the public.
Sunday’s election in the country’s most populous province, Punjab, was held to fill the seat vacated by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was barred from public office in July.
The investigation that drove him from office began after the names of his three children appeared in the Panama Papers, a trove of documents uncovered by the International Consortium of Journalists showing how corrupt politicians or criminals around the globe launder or hide their wealth. Sharif and his supporters argue that the judgment was influenced by Pakistan’s powerful military, which has a long history of interference in the country’s politics.