Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan on Thursday claimed victory in the general elections after his party emerged as the single largest in the National Assembly with its candidates winning 104 seats and leading in 14 others, amid rival political parties’ claim of “blatant” rigging.
Jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won 58 seats and was leading on four, while Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by former president Asif Ali Zardari won 37 seats and was leading on six, according to the latest unofficial results.
Pakistan's National Assembly comprises a total of 342 members, of which 272 are directly elected whereas the rest - 60 seats reserved for women and 10 for religious minorities - are selected later through proportional representation among parties with more than 5 per cent of the vote. A party can only form the government if it manages to clinch 172 seats in total.
“After a 22-year-long struggle, the almighty God has finally given me the chance to implement the manifesto I had dreamed up over two decades ago,” Khan, 65, said in his first public address after the polls.
In his speech that was broadcast live via video link, Khan promised to make Pakistan's institutions stronger under which everyone will be held accountable. “First, I will be subjected to accountability, then my ministers and so on. Today we are behind (other countries) because there is a separate system for those in power and a separate one for ordinary citizens,” Khan said as he promised to end the VIP culture and convert the existing PM House into an educational institution.
He also vowed to improve the governance and overcome the economic challenges faced by Pakistan.
His speech came as two main parties — PML-N and PPP — raised questions on the transparency of the vote counting process, alleging their polling agents were not allowed to verify vote counts as is mandated by law.
PML-N chief Shehbaz Sharif, who was the prime ministerial candidate of his party after the jailing of his brother Nawaz Sharif in a corruption case, rejected the election results, alleging “blatant” rigging. He did not say who he believes could have rigged the polls, but allegations of manipulating the elections have been made against the country’s influential military.
Awami National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan, Pak-Sarzameen Party, Muttahida Majlas-i-Amal and Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan also suspected rigging in the counting of votes.