Candidates linked to jailed former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan were running a close race with the party of three-time premier Nawaz Sharif on Friday as election results trickled in after a long delay that added to accusations of poll rigging.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was barred from contesting Thursday’s election as a bloc, but official results showed independent candidates linked to his party winning 12 seats so far — two less than the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Unofficial tallies on local TV stations had independents in the lead for many of the remaining seats up for grabs in the 266-member assembly.
By 10:30 am (0530 GMT) — nearly 18 hours after polling stations closed — the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had announced just 37 National Assembly seat results. Continue reading
“Independents spring surprise, PTI-backed candidates defy odds,” said the headline of the English-language Express Tribune newspaper on Friday.
“There was a sense of certainty about the outcome,” Sarah Khan, an assistant professor of political science at Yale University, told AFP.
“That sense of certainty got upset very early on,” she added. “It’s not the foregone conclusion that anybody thought it might be.”
Before the first results were officially announced, PTI chief organiser Omar Ayub Khan said he was confident the party had done enough.
“Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-backed independent candidates can form the next federal government with a two-thirds majority,” he said in a video statement released to the media.
The PML-N had been expected to win the most seats following Thursday’s vote, with analysts saying its 74-year-old founder Nawaz Sharif had the blessing of the military-led establishment.
Party spokeswoman Marriyum Aurangzeb said they were still hopeful of taking the largest province of Punjab, crucial to forming a government.
The PPP, meanwhile, appeared to be doing better than expected, with leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari saying early results were “very encouraging”.
The election commission had earlier blamed “internet problems” for a delay in results, but said they would now “be flowing in continuously”.
Independent candidates linked to jailed former prime minister Imran Khan are outperforming expectations Friday in Pakistan's election, local TV tallies show, as a slow trickle of official results spark fears of a fixhttps://t.co/likQfdTiEk pic.twitter.com/C8gqLODf9X— AFP News Agency (@AFP) February 9, 2024