Independents linked to the PTI party lead in Pakistan elections as vote counting nears its end | Election news

Candidates linked to the political party of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan are leading the Pakistani elections, beating two parties believed to be favored by the military, at a time when Counting votes He enters his final stop.

In the AI’s “victory speech” posted on the social media platform

Candidates of Khan’s PTI party were forced to run as independents after they were banned from using the party’s symbol – a cricket bat – to help illiterate voters find them on ballot papers.

Election results It began flowing within nearly 12 hours after polling for the national and provincial assemblies ended on Thursday, showing candidates belonging to the PTI party leading by a narrow margin, followed by contenders from the Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Independent candidates, most of whom have the support of the PTI, have so far won 99 seats out of the total 266 seats in the National Assembly. The PML-N won 69 seats, and the PPP won 52 seats. Results are still due for about twenty additional seats.

Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League, said he would seek to form a government Coalition government After his party lagged behind the independent candidates supported by Khan.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, center, his brother Shehbaz Sharif, right, and daughter Maryam Nawaz wave to supporters after the preliminary results of the country’s parliamentary elections, in Lahore, Pakistan (KM Chaudary/AP)

Sharif had previously announced his victory in the elections while the votes were still being counted.

But he later backtracked, saying: “We do not have enough of a majority to form a government without the support of others, and we call on allies to join the coalition so that we can make joint efforts to get Pakistan out of its problems.”

Sharif said that he would deal with the Pakistan People’s Party led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, as a coalition partner.

He also added that he wanted to sit together in harmony with other parties to “change” Pakistan.

‘History made’

In his speech to Amnesty International, Khan denounced the PML-N leader as a “petty man”, adding: “No Pakistani will accept him” or his claim of victory.

Speaking to voters, he said: “My fellow Pakistanis, you have made history. I am proud of you, and I thank God for uniting the nation.”

The Pakistani vote came more than a week after Khan, who has been imprisoned since August, faced consecutive sentences in several cases that he said were politically motivated.

Last month, the former leader turned 71 years old peace His longest sentence to date: 14 years for corruption in a case related to the sale of state gifts he received as prime minister. A day earlier, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for leaking state secrets.

With Khan in prison and PTI members facing a crackdown, their lead in the elections came as a surprise to many.

Maya Tudor, associate professor at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, told Al Jazeera that it would be great for PTI-backed candidates to win the election but the road ahead is bumpy.

“A fragile economy, conflict on almost every border, and high inflation are what ordinary Pakistanis feel every day,” Tudor said.

“Political engineering”

Thursday’s elections were marred by violence by armed groups and were widely criticized comment Mobile phone services have also raised accusations of “political engineering.”

The delay in the election results on Friday also raised eyebrows, with PTI spokesman Rauf Hassan accusing the authorities of tampering with the results, saying the votes were “stolen.”

Reporting from Lahore earlier on Friday, Al Jazeera’s Asad Baig said people on the streets were openly saying the votes had been rigged.

“Some of the modeling coming out of the polls shows that there are in fact inconsistencies, and there is a real fear among people that if their votes are not respected, in that they reflect who they voted for, then that frustration can escalate into the streets, as we’ve seen,” Page said. “Indeed, in some places.”

He added that two people were killed and 20 others were injured due to the violence that broke out over the election results in northwestern Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Pashtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PKMAP) announced protests across Balochistan province against the election results, with party president Mahmood Khan Achakzai calling the 2024 elections fraudulent, Al Jazeera’s Saadullah Akhtar reported.

The long delay in the start of polling also kept people away.

Muhammad Hussain, 67, said that polling at a certain station in Karachi’s Malir district did not start until 3 p.m., seven hours after it was scheduled to start.

“We voted for change. But the way things are going, it doesn’t look like that will be the case.”

Elsewhere, several countries have done so, including the United States and the United Kingdom Named Pakistani authorities have called for an investigation into reported irregularities in Pakistan’s general elections, as the final vote count is still underway.

The final number is scheduled to be announced later Friday evening.

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