With over half the seats counted, Imran Khan’s supporters lead in Pakistan polls

Feb 9, 2024

Islamabad: Jailed former Prime Minister has the support of independents Imran Khan won the most seats Political parties lagged behind in Pakistan's elections on Friday after the results of more than half of the constituencies were declared.
Nearly 24 hours have passed since voting ended and the results have been unusually delayed, which the government has blamed on the suspension of mobile phone services – a security measure ahead of Thursday's election.
out of 136 seats counted Of the 235 contested, Khan-backed independent candidates had won 49, according to a Reuters tally of results announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as of 1045 GMT.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) got 42 seats, while late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan People's Party got 34 seats.
The remaining seats were won by smaller parties and other independent candidates.
Independent members cannot form a government on their own under Pakistan's complex electoral system which also includes reserved seats that will be allocated to parties based on their victory.
But independent members have the option to join any party after the elections.
Khan is in jail and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was barred from the elections, so his supporters Contested elections as an independent.
Analysts have predicted there may be no clear winner, adding to the troubles of a country struggling to recover from an economic crisis while it grapples with rising terrorist violence in a deeply polarized political environment.
Moody's Investors Service said, “The timely announcement of the results, which will allow the smooth formation of the new government, will reduce policy and political uncertainty.” “This is important for a country that faces extremely challenging macroeconomic conditions.”
The delay in announcing results was unusual for elections in Pakistan. Karachi's stock index and Pakistan's sovereign bonds fell due to uncertainty.
ECP special secretary Zafar Iqbal said without elaborating that the reason behind the delay was an “internet issue”.
The main electoral battle was expected to be between candidates supported by Khan, whose PTI had won the previous national election, and Sharif's PML-N. Khan believes the powerful military is acting to drive his party out of existence, while analysts and opponents say Sharif has the support of the generals.
The nuclear-armed country has been directly or indirectly dominated by the military in its 76 years of independence, but for many years it has said it does not interfere in politics.
Sharif, considered a strong candidate by many observers, has dismissed talk of an unclear result, but Ishaq Dar, a close aide, told GEO TV that the party could form a coalition with the support of independents.
“I am confident that we will form the government,” Dar said.
If no one gets a clear majority in the elections, as analysts are predicting, several challenges will be difficult to overcome – the most important being seeking a new bailout program from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the current arrangement expires in three weeks. will be.
Marvin Weinbaum, Afghanistan and Pakistan director, said the coalition government “will likely be unstable, weak” and “the biggest loser … will be the military. Because the military has really staked its reputation on its ability to deliver this vote “. Study at the Middle East Institute in Washington.
He said the election would hopefully help resolve the crises Pakistan is facing, but a fractured verdict “could be the basis for an even deeper engagement of destabilizing forces”.
Thousands of soldiers were deployed on streets and polling stations across the country for Thursday's vote. The borders with Iran and Afghanistan were temporarily closed due to increased security.
The interior ministry said that despite tight security, 28 people, including two children, were killed in 56 violent incidents including bomb blasts, grenade attacks and firing by militants.
Interior Minister Gohar Ijaz said, “Despite some sporadic incidents, the overall situation remained under control, which shows the effectiveness of our security measures.”
State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters Washington was “concerned about steps taken to restrict freedom of expression, particularly regarding Internet and cellphone use.”
Patel said the United States strongly condemned election-related violence before and on Election Day.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also expressed concern about the violence and the suspension of mobile communications services, his spokesman said in an emailed statement.
Amnesty International called the suspension of mobile services “a blunt attack on the rights of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.

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