Imran Khan's PTI leads in Pak polls, rivals allege vote rigging
26 July 2018
Cricketer-turned-politician and the military’s favourite Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has emerged as the single largest party with 118 seats in the 272-member National Assembly constituencies amidst allegations of rigged election by rival political parties.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was ahead in 60 constituencies, and Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), led by the son of assassinated two-time Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was leading in 35 constituencies.
With just 42 per cent of the total vote counted till around 5am, the Election Commission of Pakistan said Khan's PTI is leading in 113 of 272 contested National Assembly constituencies.
Counting was delayed, which the Election commission attributed to technical glitches, giving further ammo to allegations of rigging.
In an unusual press conference at 4 am local time, Chief Election Commissioner Muhammad Raza Khan acknowledged that the delay in announcement of election results has "caused some annoyance". The results were expected by this morning, but with just 42 per cent of the votes counted, the CEC announced what he called was the "first non-official, preliminary result".
The CEC also attributed the delay to a new system — Results Transmission System — introduced by it.
"There's no conspiracy, nor any pressure in delay of the results. The delay is being caused because the result transmission system has collapsed," secretary Babar Yaqoob told reporters.
PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif outright rejected the election results and hinted at “blatant rigging” and said his party would launch protests against the alleged rigging of polls. "Some five other parties, including PPP have raised the rigging issue in polls. After consulting them, I will announce the future course of action," he said.
"We will fight this injustice and use all options." Sharif termed it the dirtiest election in Pakistan's history. "This is a horrible situation which I have never seen in my 30-year political career. These were the dirtiest polls in Pakistan's history," he said.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb raised objections over the counting process and alleged that her party's agents were forced out from several polling stations. "The counting process is being carried out behind closed doors and changes are being made to Form-45," she told reporters.
With the CEC announcing preliminary results, Imran Khan's party seemed increasingly confident of winning the election although it was short of the 137 seats needed for a majority in the National Assembly.
While it looks certain that Imran Khan’s PTI would get the necessary majority, there is also the prospect that the PTI may need support of some smaller parties to form a government.
While avoiding an official declaration of his party’s victory, party spokesman Fawad Chaudhry tweeted "Congratulations to the nation on a new Pakistan! Prime Minister Imran Khan."
Wednesday's voting was marred by a suicide bombing that killed 31 people near a polling station in Quetta, capital of the southwestern province of Baluchistan. Islamic State claimed responsibility.