The feeling of being ‘shell-shocked’ is a part of an average sportsman’s life; it is likewise not tormenting Imran Khan for the first time, given his experience as a cricketer. Defeat and its bitterness, where every day is a day of reckoning, happens and even to the legends.

His statement on Sunday that polling results were altered after the victory speech of Mian Nawaz Sharif and that he would hit back with a white paper on rigging reflects his mood. This is only natural. Coming from any man who fights to the very last, and has enormous expectations, this could be expected. He was anticipating a complete victory, but any seasoned politician knows that things do not always play out according to script. The good thing is that still people voted in his favour and gave him a sizeable number of seats that is something that he and his party must be justifiably proud of. It’s his party’s mandate, which must be respected but so is that of any other party, even if that happens to be its main rival. The captain has to accept defeat just like on so many days on the cricket ground, when he could not come out a happy man. There is on the other hand, an entire system of hearing of grievances such as the ECP and judiciary where he can turn to, to register his complaints. His complaints might not wholly be without substance. There are, as we know, some instances on May 11, where the ECP itself admitted cases of rigging and swung into action to stop them. In some of the stations, polling time was extended, while in others officers involved in suspicious conduct were given punishments. So while, some of the complaints about certain particular cases might be valid, overall, it would be a little unfair to make a sweeping doubt over the impartiality of the polls, and worse still if it is aired openly.

Imran Khan is a healthy influence, his party has created a space for itself and forced established parties to introspect and improve their performance. He must prove he can hold his nerves even when others would crumble. After all democracy, of which he is a staunch admirer, has given its verdict.