PTI’s Imran Khan Leads Elections In Pakistan As Rivals See Irregularities Military Involvement

Lahore, Pakistan – The Tehreek e Insaf (PTI) party led by cricketer turned politician was the front-runner in the country’s general election despite rival parties claiming widespread irregularities and alleged coercion of their candidates by the military.

After the preliminary results, the PTI supporters rejoiced, waving flags and raised party slogans late into the night on Wednesday, in the eastern city of Lahore, capital of Punjab province and considered to be the country’s political heartland. The party celebrated the occasion considering it a sweeping win across the country’s 272 National Assembly constituencies.

Initial outcome indicated that PTI would emerge as the largest single party in the national government, while final results are expected in the coming hours.

The party’s rivals in the country, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), both of them raised concerns about the procedure through which results were issued by alleging that their polling agents were not given permission to verify vote counts, as it is mandatory by law.

“We completely reject this result, completely,” said Shahbaz Sharif, leader of the incumbent PML-N party, at a late night press conference in Lahore. “We will not tolerate this, and the people will use everything in their power to regain their rights. This is clear rigging, and we do not accept these results.”

The PPP under the stewardship of scion Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also put up similar allegations occurring in constituencies of its stronghold of Sindh province.

Both the parties are about to announce their next course of action on Thursday, while PTI dismissed all those accusations of malfeasance.

Over 105 million citizens of Pakistan were declared eligible to vote in the general elections, which witnessed thousands of candidates competing for 272 seats of the Lower House of parliament along with 577 provincial assembly seats.

The ruling party PML-N had to face with several blows in the run-up to the elections withstanding dozens of defections along with the conviction and arrest of its former chief, Nawaz Sharif, for corruption earlier this month.

The election was marred by violence in Pakistan as a suicide bomber killed at least 31 people. The attacker’s main target was a police vehicle in the provincial capital of Balochistan. At least 40 others were also wounded said senior police official Aitzaz Goraya.

Several incidents of firing and grenade attacks on elections stations were also reported from the Khuzdar district in Balochistan, Larkana in Sindh province and elsewhere.

Despite the violent atmosphere, elections across the country closed promptly at around 6 pm local time, as some polling stations witnessed long lines as the day wore on.

On July 16, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), an independent rights watchdog, decried “blatant, aggressive and unabashed attempts to manipulate the outcome of the upcoming elections”.

The agency documented widespread censorship of the news press relating to the allegations that the military had intimidated journalists when reporting over politics and security issues.

Khan dismissed the allegations of being “a foreign conspiracy’ at an election rally to close his campaign on Monday.

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