Former PM Imran Khan’s candidates on top as vote counting concludes in Pakistan

Islamabad, Feb 11 (EFE).- The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) concluded Thursday its counting of votes from the recent general elections, with candidates supported by jailed former prime minister and main opposition leader, Imran Khan, emerging as the largest group but without an outright majority to form the government.

According to the provisional report of the ECP, completed four days after the polls, independent candidates won 101 seats out of 265 in contention.

Most of them are loyal to Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI), who were forced to run as independents because the Supreme Court took away their party’s election symbol of a cricket bat.

Nevertheless, the election results represent a direct victory of the PTI and Khan, who was disqualified from contesting and is currently in jail, facing prison sentences and more than a hundred charges.

Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), or PML-N, led by three-time prime minister and Khan’s main rival, Nawaz Sharif, emerged as the second largest party with 75 seats, followed by Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) led by former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari with 54 seats.

Smaller parties, such as the Muhajir Qaumi Movement – 17 elected candidates – accounted for the remaining seats in the National Assembly, or the Parliament,.

The victory of Khan’s allies at the polls came as a big surprise to Pakistan, given Khan’s disqualification and imprisonment, and crackdown on the party and its senior members.

Although the party is to confirm how many of the independents are actually from PTI, several counts say that of the 101 winners, about 93 are loyal to Khan. In such a case, it would be 40 seats short of a majority to form a government.

While the other two major parties have been negotiating alliances to form a coalition government, Khan’s party seeks to challenge the results in dozens of constituencies, believing its candidates won with 140 seats.

Moreover, the PTI has said it has no interest in forming a coalition government, and called for protests across the country challenging the election results. EFE


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