Imran Khan’s party-backed independent candidates spring huge surprise in Pakistan elections


Islamabad: Jailed ex-Pakistan premier Imran Khan’s party-backed independent candidates sprung a surprise Friday by winning 86 seats out of the 201 results declared following unusual delays and allegations of rigging, as the country appeared heading towards a hung assembly.

Votes are still being counted after Thursday’s general election which was marred by allegations of rigging, sporadic violence and a countrywide mobile phone shutdown.

There were dozens of parties in the fray but the main contest was among Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), whose candidates are running as independents, former three-time premier Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

To form a government, a party must win 133 seats out of 265 in the National Assembly. Election to one seat was postponed after the death of a candidate. Overall, 169 seats are needed to secure a simple majority out of its total 336 seats, which include the reserved slots for women and minorities.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) data shows that results of 201 constituencies have been declared, which include 86 independents (mostly supported by PTI), PML-N 59, PPP 44 and 12 seats going to smaller parties.

Authorities were earlier moving at a snail’s pace to announce the election results that in a surprising development showed Khan’s PTI supported independent candidates leading the show.

The ECP started updating results at a faster pace after facing a barrage of criticism by the parties, especially the PTI which accused that its mandate was being stolen.

Imran Khan, 71, cricketer-turned-politician and the founding chairman of the PTI, is behind bars and barred from contesting. PTI candidates are running as independents after they were not allowed to use the party symbol – a cricket ‘bat’.

PTI chairman Barrister Gohar Khan ruled out Friday forging an alliance with the PPP and PML-N, saying his party is in a position to form a federal government on its own. He claimed that his party was winning 150 National Assembly seats and would be able to achieve the required number of seats to form government at the Centre.

“We are not intending to form a coalition government with PPP and PML-N,” Gohar said. “We will form the government at the Centre and Punjab,” he added.

The big names who won included PML-N top leaders, including former premier Sharif who won by a big margin by getting 171,024 votes against PTI-backed independent Dr Yasmin Rashid who polled 115,043 in Lahore.      His younger brother and former premier Shehbaz Sharif also won, in addition to his son Hamza Shehbaz and Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz. All four family members scored victories from Lahore, their home and party’s stronghold.

PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and his son party chief Bilawal were leading in their constituencies.

The prominent losers in the elections were PTI’s former leader and defence minister Pervaiz Khattak.

The Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) won two seats, and Jamaat-e-Islami and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) one each.

According to the results of 50 constituencies of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, 45 PTI-backed independent candidates secured victories.

In the Punjab Assembly, PML-N has won 39 seats, independent candidates have won 33 seats and Muslim League-Q has won two seats.

Similarly, the results of six constituencies of the Balochistan Assembly have been received so far where PML-N and Balochistan National Party (BNP) Awami have been successful in one seat each. In Balochistan, JUI-F won three seats while PPP won one seat.

In a statement on X from the PTI official handle, the party stated that it won more than 150 NA seats out of 265 open for contest as per the data received in Form 45s, which are the primary source of election results at the lowest level and show the votes for each candidate at each polling station.

In another statement, PTI alleged that its mandate was being stolen. “Let the world know that the clear and overwhelming mandate of the people of Pakistan is being stolen. Despite unprecedented pre-poll rigging & oppression, there was a record, massive turnout on polling day,” it stated.

It also referred to unspecified reports to claim that ‘PTI nominated candidates (were) losing suddenly in various constituencies now, after they had already won by a clear majority’. In a separate statement, the party asked PML-N leader Sharif, who was the favourite to win as he was backed by the powerful Army, to concede defeat. The PML-N has countered the PTI claim about results and said that it was winning.

 


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