Pakistan has witnessed a major change with cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan poised to win the national elections with a thumping majority. The election trends show that Imran will become the new prime minister without needing to ally with any major political party. This will enable him to run the government independently, without the fear of being hamstrung by demanding allies.

People have overwhelmingly voted for Imran and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which promised change in the country. And that is a firm rejection of the traditional powerhouses — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — who have been taking turns to rule for the last three decades that were rife with allegations of corruption.

A major feature of the 11th general elections was that voters, especially the educated youth and women, turned up in droves at the polling stations — a clear sign of their desire for change. The vote also reflects a rejection of extremists and religious groups who lost badly, and it is a very powerful message to the world that Pakistanis shun such elements. The biggest polling exercise in the country was largely peaceful, although there was some sporadic violence. There are also allegations of ‘rigging’ by rival parties, but that has been a regular feature of all elections.

Imran’s PTI is also sweeping Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province where the party has ruled for the last five years. What makes PTI’s feat all the more remarkable is that it has also emerged as a strong party in Punjab, considered the stronghold of deposed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N. Imran will emerge as a powerful leader if he takes control of Punjab. Though Sindh is going to PPP, as expected, PTI is emerging as the second-largest party in the province, much to everyone’s surprise. This too is a big prize for Imran.

Pakistan’s armed forces have helped the election commission conduct the polls in a free, fair and transparent manner. Now, they should refrain from meddling in the activities of the government.

Imran’s impending victory seems to have had a positive effect on the stock market, which is showing a bullish trend. The time has come for the PTI chief to put his plans into action to fulfil his promise of changing the fate of the country through economic, education and health-care reforms.

Political parties of all hues must now lend support to Imran so that he can prove himself, instead of resorting to protests that will destroy a chance to usher change in Pakistan.