Uproar as Pakistan election results delayed and Imran Khan tipped for power

26 July, 2018, 19:40 | Author: Nicole Aguilar
  • Imran Khan likely to be Pakistan's Prime Minister'Indian media has projected me like a Bollywood villain

Wednesday's voting for a National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, and four provincial assemblies followed a rancorous campaign marked by widespread allegations of manipulation.

"The Commission also notes that, in some places, polling staff appeared to be biased toward a certain party, with voters who had received slips from another party's stall being turned back on flimsy grounds".

While the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is most favoured to win the elections, rivals led by Shehbaz Sharif of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) allege discrepancies in counting since PTI is said to have military backing.

"PML-N and PPP were running under constraints and PTI was operating with complete freedom and establishment backing".

But he was dogged by the accusations he was benefiting from a "silent coup" by the generals which targeted the PML-N.

Responding to the rigging charges leveled by several opposition parties, Khan said he is ready to address their concerns.

The National Assembly members are elected through direct franchise for five years, whereas senators are elected by National Assembly members for a period of six years. Reserved seats are later allotted to parties as per their number of general seats.

In a speech peppered with populist pledges, Khan promised to create jobs for the poor and announced he would turn the palatial prime minister's official residence in the capital into an education facility instead of living in it. Its former leader Nawaz was ousted from power previous year and jailed over a corruption conviction days before the vote, removing Khan's most unsafe rival.

The campaign leading up to the July 25 vote had been marred by violence that have left more than 170 people dead.

His main challenger is Sharif, whose conservative PLM-N party is now run by his brother Shehbaz.

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Unofficial projections by various local media outlets showed Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party enjoying a clear lead.

If Khan's lead holds, his party will likely be able to form a government with smaller parties and independents, avoiding the prospect of weeks of haggling.

Sharif, who was immediately placed in custody after returning from Britain almost two weeks ago, has denounced the verdict as politically motivated and accused a covert military-judiciary alliance of trying to keep him out of politics and undermining the integrity of his PML-N party.

Although PTI workers and supporters started celebrations before the final results, no statement - or even a tweet - has been issued by the former cricketer himself on the results.

"The surprisingly high seat total for PTI, even as the votes continue to be counted, will be enough to trigger the suspicions of the PPP and PML-N", said Michael Kugelman, an analyst at the Wilson Center in Washington.

The PPP has ruled Pakistan more than any other party since 1970. "I will discuss with my party how to use the lavish prime minister house for the public", he maintained.

Appearing at the Atlantic Council, a U.S. think-tank, Ikram ul Majeed Sehgal chairman of the Pathfinder Group said the Pakistani army always had a major say in elections. He was later hanged in a murder case in 1979. Sharif's PML (N) is second with 64 seats, while the youngest candidate, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari comes in third with 38 seats. In 2008, the party secured 69 seats, nearly all from Punjab.

It is again viewed as the single-largest party in Sindh though it is facing a strong challenge from PTI, MMA, and a regional conglomerate Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) in different parts of the province. In the run-up to the election, the country was hit by a series of terror attacks on candidates and campaign rallies, including one that killed 151 persons in Balochistan province on July 13. The alliance enjoys little support in Punjab.

"The only way we can overcome this is by revamping the way we do governance in this country, strengthening institutions and then spending it on our human beings", Khan noted. Farooq Sattar has taken reins of party since Hussain's ouster from MQM.

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