Tuesday, 25 September, 2018

Pakistan's political parties reject election results

Abdul Majeed  Getty Images A Pakistani voter casts a ballot Abdul Majeed Getty Images A Pakistani voter casts a ballot
Glenn Montgomery | 26 July, 2018, 16:41

"Today what they have done has pushed Pakistan back 30 years..."

"People will not bear it", he added.

Pakistanis began voting in a historic third straight election ending a campaign marred by widespread allegations of manipulation that local and global rights group say imperils the country's wobbly transition to democratic rule.

The Pakistan Muslim League is the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

The party of disgraced former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has rejected the results, as have a host of smaller parties, all alleging vote-rigging and manipulation.

In other areas, it said, "polling staff appeared to be biased toward a certain party", without naming the party.

Babar Yaqoob, secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan, said: "There's no conspiracy, nor any pressure in delay of the results". The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has said that there are "ample grounds" to doubt the legitimacy of the election, a view echoed by Sharif, who described his arrest as motivated by "blind revenge" and said upon his return to Pakistan "what credibility is now left of the elections?"

Global media and the Indian political circuit have been keeping a close eye on the Pakistan General Election 2018 and its outcome.

"We will use all political and legal options for redressal of these glaring excesses", said Shahbaz Sharif, leader of the Pakistan Muslim League.

"This is complete chaos", analyst Azeema Cheema told AFP. The U.S. government has struggled to elicit much in terms of cooperation - the onset of a new domestic political crisis in Pakistan makes such cooperation more unlikely.

Throughout the night, Mr Khan's supporters celebrated outside party offices nationwide. The tweet featured a collage of pictures of Pakistanis handing military personnel at polling stations flowers and elderly women kissing soldiers.

Wednesday's elections were meant to be a rare democratic transition from one civilian government to another in the young, nuclear-armed country which has been ruled by the military for roughly half its history.

"If they take one step towards us, we will take two, but at least need a start", 65-year-old Khan said in his first public address after leading his party to victory in the general elections held yesterday.

According to AFP, Gallup Pakistan estimated voter turnout at between 50 to 55 per cent in an electorate of almost 106 million - similar to the previous contest in 2013.

The PML-N has sought to turn the vote into a referendum on democracy and has said it was campaigning to protect the "sanctity of the vote", a reference to a history of political interference by the military. More than 11,000 candidates vied for 270 seats in the National Assembly, and 577 seats in four provincial assemblies.

"Now the army, the intelligence agencies and the judiciary are taking sides", said PML-N voter Tariq Ateeq Sheikh, 50, a property dealer in Lahore's Walton neighbourhood.

Up to 800,000 police and troops were stationed at more than 85,000 polling stations across the country, after a string of attacks targeting political events in the final weeks of the campaign killed more than 180 people.

Khan campaigned on populist promises to build a "New Pakistan" and vowed to eradicate corruption, clean up the environment and construct an "Islamic welfare" state.

With cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan set to become the next Pakistan Prime Minister, his former wife Jemima Goldsmith on Thursday hailed his poll victory as "an incredible lesson in tenacity". 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.

Khan looks increasingly likely to win the election marred by violence and claims of fraud.

PML-N spokeswoman Maryam Aurangzeb also said there had been complaints about the vote counting.

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