Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has a clear edge over jailed former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.
Pakistan’s cricket legend turned politician Imran Khan is set to be the country’s next prime minister.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has a clear edge over jailed former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of assassinated two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Although PTI workers and supporters have launched into celebrations, no statement – or even a tweet – has been issued by Khan on his victory, Dawn reported.
His spokesperson Naeemul Haque, however, tweeted that the PTI chief will “address the nation” today at 2pm PST “in celebration and recognition of the massive support received from the people of Pakistan in the 2018 elections which was a contest between the forces of good and evil”.
Khan is seen as close to Pakistan’s powerful armed forces and many believe the results have been tilted in his party’s favour.
As the results trickled in there were allegations of massive rigging. The July 25 elections, said to be the “dirtiest” in Pakistan’s history, are the second civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in Pakistan’s 71-year history.
With Sharif being banned for life by the Supreme Court from holding public office, his brother Shahbaz Sharif is holding fort for him. Shahbaz, a three-time chief minister of Punjab, rejected the count.
“It is a sheer rigging. The way the people’s mandate has blatantly been insulted, it is intolerable,” Shahbaz told a media conference as the counting continued.
“We totally reject this result. It is a big shock to Pakistan’s democratic process.”
“What happened today took Pakistan 30 years back. I have never seen such a horrendous situation in my entire political career.”
“We are convening the meeting of the party’s Central Executive Committee tomorrow to decide on the next course of action. We will then hold consultations with other political parties to agree on a shared set of actions. This matter cannot be allowed to go unattended,” he announced.
The 11th general election will also be remembered for being the bloodiest with more than 179 people killed in a series of suicide attacks targeting election rallies. More than 154 people were killed in a single attack in the southwestern town of Mastung, the second deadliest attack ever on Pakistani soil, less than two weeks ago. 31 people were killed on the day of polling in Quetta.
A public holiday was declared to enable people to vote. Around 371,388 army personnel have been deployed across 85,000 polling stations in the country to ensure no untoward incident occurs.
The voting was held to elect 272 members of the lower house of parliament, as well as for the country’s four provincial assemblies. The Pakistan Peoples Party representatives in an emergency press conference alleged that a clear pattern of interference is being seen in the vote count.
“There will be severe consequences if public opinion was tempered with,” Raza Rabbani, the former chairman of the Senate said. PPP Senator Sherry Rehman said that it appears that except one party, all political parties are being cornered.
Other parties including Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) and Awami National Party (ANP) have also voiced grave concerns over what they termed “systematic manipulation in compilation and announcement of results” by the polling staff.
According to unofficial and unverified results, the PTI is ahead on more than 122 National Assembly seats and PML-N is lagging behind with 55, Dawn reported.
Khan’s party is also leading across 75 Punjab Assembly seats while rivals PML-N are on second position with 73.
According to AFP, Gallup Pakistan estimated voter turnout at between 50 to 55 per cent in an electorate of nearly 106 million — similar to the previous contest in 2013.
Twitter erupted in disbelief following the counting of votes.
Prominent Dawn columnist Cyril Sam tweeted, “This is beyond shocking, it just really is…what are they doing to my country…”
The web editor of Dawn, Jahanzaib Haque wrote, “What a waste of money.”
Hussain Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US, also tweeted about the results. “Role reversal – in 2013, only party-PTI questioned the fairness of election results. This time most parties are questioning legitimacy of results that favour PTI.”
Khan took a plunge into politics in the 1990s when memories of him winning the Cricket World Cup for Pakistan were still fresh. He fared poorly in the 2013 polls – even though that was the phase when his party began getting noticed.