Imran Khan on way to open PM’s innings as PTI moves ahead in Pakistan polls

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Islamabad, July 26 (IANS) Preliminary and unofficial poll results on Thursday indicated that Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) has obtained a clear edge over the other parties, leading in over 119 National Assembly seats, a day after Pakistan voted for its second consecutive democratic transfer of power.

Although PTI workers and supporters started celebrations before the final results, no statement — or even a tweet — has been issued by the former cricketer himself on the results.

His spokesperson Naeemul Haque, however, tweeted that the PTI chief will “address the nation in celebration and recognition of the massive support received from the people of Pakistan in the 2018 elections which was a contest between the forces of good and evil”.

In Punjab, with preliminary results from polling stations available with the ECP, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is currently holding its lead on 117 provincial seats but PTI is closing in with a lead on 102 seats.

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Imran Khan’s party is clearly steering ahead in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with a lead on 55 seats against Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which is currently leading on 7 seats.

The preliminary results from Sindh show PPP-P leading on 60 seats, followed by PTI on 14 seats.

In Balochistan, the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) is leading on 10 provincial seats, followed by the Balochistan National Party (BNP) on seven seats.

According to Geo News, Awami National Party leader Ghulam Ahmed Bilour conceded defeat to PTI’s Shaukat Ali, his competitor in Peshawar, saying: “The results indicate that Imran Khan is a favourite leader of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I am a democratic person and I admit the defeat.”

Counting is still going on at the polling stations of different constituencies.

According to PTV news, Imran Khan won his seat from Islamabad against PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi. The PTI chief was pitted against former Pakistani Prime Minister Abbasi in the crucial National Assembly seat.

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The voter turnout was recorded at 50-55 per cent of the nearly 106 million electorate, similar to the previous electoral contest in 2013.

Television visuals showed election workers sorting through massive piles of paper ballots at polling stations across the country.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif at a mid-vote count press conference said his party rejects the poll results.

In a tweet, he said the party had rejected the results “due to manifest and massive irregularities”.

Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also said he had not received any official results from any constituency where he was contesting, despite it being past midnight.

“My candidates (have been) complaining (that) polling agents have been thrown out of polling stations across the country. Inexcusable and outrageous,” he tweeted.

A delay was reported in the transmission of election results due to the breaking down of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s Results Transmission System (RTS), which is being run through a software powered by the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

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Election Commission secretary Babar Yaqoob flatly denied allegations of vote count manipulation.

Shortly before Sharif spoke, state television said that just one-fifth of the votes had been counted so far — an unusually slow count that further fuelled suspicions of rigging.

Yaqoob said the vote-counting system, which was untested, had “crashed”, adding: “There is definitely no conspiracy, no one wants to influence the results”.

A single party will need to bag at least 137 of the directly elected seats to be able to form the government on its own.

As many as 12,570 candidates were in the electoral fray for a total of 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the country’s 11th general election.

–IANS

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