Pakistan's incumbent party reject 'rigged' election result as Imran Khan takes lead

25 July, 2018, 23:57 | Author: Amy Huff
  • MQM-Pakistan's Faisal Subzwari, PSP's Raza Haroon

Speaking to the media in Islamabad, Marriyum Aurangzeb said that the party's polling agents were not only being thrown out of polling stations but also being deprived of their right of obtaining the all-important Form-45.

Khan's party spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, showed confidence even before the counting was finished, saying in a tweet "Congratulations to the nation on a new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan".

The poll outcome could result in a weak coalition government especially at a time when Pakistan urgently needs to address a foreign currency crisis and may also need to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a second bailout in almost five years. Almost 10.6 crore people are registered to vote for members of the lower house of parliament and four provincial assemblies.

The poll panel has sent Khan a notice.

For the first time in 2013, a civilian government in Pakistan completed its five-year term.

Election researcher Azeema Cheema said the contest remained "too competitive to call", with the most populous province of Punjab likely to be the key following fierce campaigning in battleground areas there. More than 30 political parties have fielded their candidates for the elections.

Up to 800,000 police and troops have been stationed at more than 85,000 polling stations across the country, with concerns for security after a string of bloody militant attacks in the final weeks of the campaign that killed more than 180 people including three candidates.

Whichever party wins, it will face a mounting and urgent in-tray, from a brewing economic crisis to worsening relations with on-off ally the United States to deepening cross-country water shortages.

Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former Sindh chief minister Murad Ali Shah, MQM-P's Farooq Sattar, Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) chairman Mustafa Kamal, PTI chief Imran Khan, PPP co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto and JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman also cast their vote in their respective constituencies.

The contest largely became a two-way race between Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, whose brother Shahbaz is leading its campaign. The army has also dismissed allegations of meddling in the election.

PPP leaders Raza Rabbani and Sherry Rehman summoned emergency press conference in Karachi Geo news screen grab
PPP leaders Raza Rabbani and Sherry Rehman summoned emergency press conference in Karachi Geo news screen grab

Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was leading on 64 parliamentary seats today while its main rival Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was ahead on 46 seats in the initial round of the counting in an election marred by a deadly suicide attack and allegations of manipulations by the powerful military.

Such a delay could further imperil Pakistan's economy, with a looming currency crisis expected to force the new government to turn to the International Monetary Fund for Pakistan's second bailout since 2013.

In Punjab Assembly, PML-N and PTI were in a neck-and-neck fight with both leading on 54 and 43 seats respectively according to trends available for 119 seats out of 297 seats.

All the mainstream political parties have raised serious reservations over the credibility of the polling process.

Sharif's PML-N has been hoping its delivery of mega infrastructure projects, especially roads and power stations that helped hugely reduce electricity blackouts, would win over.

The PML-N says it is the target of the alleged military machinations.

PML-N's campaign was reinvigorated by the return to Pakistan of Nawaz Sharif, 68, who was earlier this month convicted and sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison over the purchase of upscale London apartments using offshore companies in the mid-1990s.

Sharif has denied any wrongdoing and accused elements of the judiciary and military of conspiring to bring down his government.

Pakistan was left reeling on Wednesday after a bomb blast rocked the city of Quetta, the provincial capital of the Balochistan province. Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

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