Pakistan's Imran Khan declares election win for his party

26 July, 2018, 18:27 | Author: Donnie King
  • Imran Khan wants to create a 'New Pakistan,' many fear more of the same

Who won the Pakistan election today?

He characterized his campaign as a battle against political elites - dominated by long-established parties like the PML-N and PPP - that he accuses of hindering economic development in the impoverished country of 208 million.

Supporters of jailed ex-premier Nawaz Sharif said there were problems with the vote count and the process was an assault on democracy in a country that has a history of military rule.

But if his party is delayed in forming a government, it could further damage the country's economy which has a looming currency crisis and is expected to force the government to turn to the International Monetary Fund for a bailout.

Jubilant Khan supporters danced to the beat of drums at his party headquarters in Islamabad, sensing a victory.

Election researcher Azeema Cheema said the contest remained "too competitive to call", with the most populous province of Punjab likely to be the key following fierce campaigning in battleground areas there.

Sharif, the younger brother of disgraced ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, took over the ruling Pakistan Muslim League previous year after his brother was found guilty of corruption. A single party will need at least 137 of the directly elected seats to be able to form the government on its own.

Khan, however, is wary of governing with the established parties.

Imran Khan wants to create a 'New Pakistan,' many fear more of the same
PTI leads in Pak election 2018 results

His PTI party is still expected to fall short of an overall majority and to seek coalition partners. "Twenty-two parties said the election was rigged and I was the only one who said there should be an investigation", he added.

The polls were guarded by police, troops and paramilitary rangers, after several attacks during the campaign killed more than 200 people. On the other hand, Mumbai attack mastermind and Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed seems to have been rejected by Pakistani voters as none of the candidates associated with extremism in past have leads.

Khan has also increasingly catered to hardline religious groups, particularly over the inflammatory issue of blasphemy, sparking fears a win for PTI could embolden Islamist extremists. A further 70 seats for women and minorities are awarded proportionally based on the voting percentages.

However, PML-N leaders pulled no punches.

Khan also said that he was very disappointed with the Indian media which had projected him like a "Bollywood villain" in recent weeks.

Thousands vying for office: More than 11,000 candidates were in the running for the 272 seats in Pakistan's National Assembly and the 577 seats in four provincial assemblies. Its spokesman, Nadeem Qasim, said Khan had violated constitutional provisions on "the secrecy of the ballot" and that his vote could be disqualified.

Mushahid Hussain Sayed, a PML-N senator, said the party had delivered on promises to reduce electricity shortages and improve infrastructure. He also said he will not live in the Prime Minister's house but a simple, non-extravagant residence.

"It's two planks", Sayed said of the PML-N's appeal to voters. Sharif has clashed repeatedly with the military over the years and was jailed this month on corruption charges, which he is appealing. The ECP rejected the "blatant" rigging allegations.



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