Khan and Sharif declare victory in Pakistani elections, despite not having a clear majority | Election news

Pakistan is facing a period of uncertainty as election results did not show a clear majority and two opposing political leaders, Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League (PMLN) and Imran Khan of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), declared victory.

Full results for Thursday’s elections They were still unable to win nine of the 265 seats contested late Saturday.

Independent candidates, most of whom are linked to the jailed Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, are well ahead with 102 seats, according to the latest tally published on the Election Commission’s website. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Muslim League led by Sharif comes in second place, having won 73 seats, followed by the Pakistan People’s Party led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari with 54 seats.

“These elections are perhaps the most controversial in Pakistan’s history,” said Kamal Haider, Al Jazeera’s correspondent from Islamabad.

He said Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Gohar Ali Khan is confident that his party will be in the national parliament as well as in Punjab province, where they claim to have a majority. They also swept the polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Meanwhile, Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League, who also declared victory in the elections, said he would seek to form a coalition government. Zardari of the Pakistan People’s Party stressed that a federal government cannot be formed, as is the case in the provinces of Punjab and Balochistan, without his party, the Pakistan People’s Party.

According to Al Jazeera’s Abid Hussein, two days after the polls closed, a divided mandate has emerged between the three major political forces, and there is little clarity about what comes next.

Given this division, the big question now is who will be able to form a government in Pakistan, a country of 241 million that has suffered two turbulent years of political instability, an economy on the verge of default, and mounting internal unrest. “Security challenges,” Hussein said.

Pakistani analyst Zaigham Khan said that there are two possible scenarios after the initial results were announced.

“The most likely scenario is the formation of a coalition government that includes all political parties – except for the PTI,” Khan told Al Jazeera. This will include the two largest political parties, the Pakistan Peoples Party and the Pakistan Muslim League, as well as the MQM, Jamaat-e-Islami and others.

“The second scenario, less likely but technically possible, is for the PPP to cooperate with the PTI and form a government,” the analyst said. Candidates belonging to the PTI movement who ran as independents won the largest number of seats.

Protests

With the final results still awaited, protests broke out across the country for the second day in a row, with demonstrators claiming that delaying the election result allows authorities to rig the vote count.

NetBlocks reported a nationwide glitch in social media platform X during polling. PTI described the outage as “extremely shameful”.

The Free and Fair Elections Monitoring Network said it had given the Election Commission of Pakistan a generally positive assessment of how the election was conducted, and said the delay in announcing the results had “overshadowed an orderly election,” raising questions about the legitimacy of the result.

“In addition, the caretaker government’s suspension of mobile phone and internet services on Election Day – regardless of security reasons – undermined years of parliamentary efforts to reform the process of administering election results,” it added in its initial report.

Meanwhile, the US, UK and EU expressed concern about Pakistan’s electoral process, cited allegations of interference – including the arrest of party workers – and added that allegations of irregularities, interference and fraud should be fully investigated.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Saturday that the comments by “certain countries and organisations” ignore the “undeniable fact” that Pakistan is holding peaceful and successful elections while dealing with security threats.

“steady hands”

Amid frustration and uncertainty among people in Pakistan, the country’s powerful army chief made his first public statement since the vote.

General Syed Asim Munir said, according to an army statement on Saturday, “The nation needs stable hands and a healing touch to move from a policy of chaos and polarization, which is not appropriate for a progressive country with a population of 250 million people.”

The statement quoted Mounir as saying, “The elections are not a zero-sum competition between winning and losing, but rather an exercise to determine the people’s mandate.”

“The political leadership and its workers must rise above self-interests and join efforts in governing and serving the people, which is perhaps the only way to make democracy practical and meaningful.”

The army is the dominant player in the country’s political affairs, and has ruled it directly for more than three decades since 1947.

Aisha Siddiqa, a senior fellow at King’s College London, said the Pakistani military was hoping to form a weak coalition under the leadership of the PML-N.

“In a way, these are the results we got,” a friend told Al Jazeera. “But I would also argue that these are not the results they expected. They did their best to ensure low voter turnout, but people came out with passion.”

Siddiqa said the military was likely to support a coalition government combining the PML-N and the Pakistan People’s Party, but he was still unsure who would lead it, if it was Bhutto Zardari, Shehbaz Sharif or Nawaz Sharif.

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