Imran Khan’s PTI leads in delayed counting, EC rejects rigging allegations

Mae Harvey
July 26, 2018

"The way the people's mandate has blatantly been insulted, it is intolerable", Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the PML-N and brother of the former prime minister.

The former cricket star as emerged as a slight favourite in national opinion polls, but the divisive race is likely to come down to Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province, where the PML-N has clung to its lead in recent surveys.

Overall, PTI is leading PML-N in 93 constituencies of NA. PML-N even rejected the unofficial result outrightly.

The PML-N, on the other hand, says it is the target of the alleged military machinations, with candidates under pressure and Nawaz Sharif ousted from power previous year and jailed over a corruption conviction days before the vote, removing Khan's most unsafe foe from the race.

The opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Kahn is looking to unseat the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which was formally led by the now imprisoned ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Final results are expected early Thursday.

A third party, the Pakistan Peoples Party headed by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari - son of slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto - could be called upon to form a coalition with any victor.

A total of 370,000 army personnel were deputed at polling stations, and to ensure that the voting process goes through smoothly, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that military officers were additionally given magisterial powers, effectively making them judge and jury to punish individuals for illegal acts committed inside polling stations.

It ensures that regardless of who wins the election, there is unlikely to be any great deviation from the military's policies and priorities in domestic and foreign affairs, he said.

Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) secretary Babar Yaqoob said told reporters early on Thursday counting had been delayed by technical failures in an electronic reporting system and the tallying was now being conducted manually.

During Pakistan Election 2018, 53,000 local, national, and worldwide media observers will monitor the polls.

"We will sweep the elections", said Abdul Basit, who watched the results on a large TV screen.

A hospital official said an explosion outside a crowded polling station in the southwestern city of Quetta killed 31 people and wounded 35 more on Wednesday, as Pakistanis voted in general elections.

The State Department spokesperson noted that Pakistan's Election Commission rejected registration of the Milli Muslim League (MML) in June, citing its linkages to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), an internationally-sanctioned terrorist organisation.

PML-N spokeswoman Maryam Aurangzeb said there had also been complaints about the vote counting. Pakistan's military deployed 350,000 troops countrywide at polling stations.

He said that in case any proof is brought forward, action would be taken against all individuals found involved.

Ahead of the elections, the PML-N complained of a targeted crackdown by the security establishment, with the alleged help of the courts, in favour of the PTI party.

A political party has to secure at least 172 seats to form the government in the 342-seat National Assembly.

More than a 105 million Pakistanis were eligible to vote in the general election, which saw thousands of candidates competing for 272 seats in the lower house of parliament, as well as 577 provincial assembly seats.

Jibran Nasir, an independent candidate from the financial hub of Karachi, said he received death threats and even had a fatwa, or religious edict, issued against him.

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