Islamabad, Jul 18 (EFE).- The party of Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan, who was recently ousted from power, on Monday secured a key victory against the government in regional by-elections in the eastern Punjab province, after which it called for holding general elections in the country.
In elections held on Sunday for 20 seats of the regional assembly of Pakistan’s most populous province, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Party won 15 seats, according to results announced by the election commission early on Monday.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz managed to win just four seats, while the remaining seat went to an independent candidate.
The PTI accused the government of trying to rig the elections with the help of the election commission.
“I want to first thank our PTI workers & voters of Punjab for defeating not just PMLN candidates but the entire state machinery, esp harassment by police, & a totally biased ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan).” Khan tweeted.
The results put Khan’s party in a position to replace the current chief minister of Punjab in an assembly vote set to be held on Jul. 22.
“The only way forward from here is to hold fair & free elections under a credible ECP,” Khan said in another tweet.
Khan was ousted as the prime minister on Apr. 9 through a no-confidence motion brought by an alliance of parties that were in opposition at the time – the Pakistan Democratic Movement – which later formed a government with Sharif at the helm.
Khan lost his majority in the lower house when some of his allies joined the PDM, and has repeatedly accused the United States of conspiring with the opposition to ensure a regime change in Pakistan, although Washington has denied the claims.
The regional by-elections in Punjab were being seen as a decisive moment for Khan’s political future.
The polls were necessitated after 25 regional lawmakers from Khan’s party rebelled against the leader and voted in favor of the PDM candidate for the post of chief minister of Punjab, considered the second most powerful political office in the country after the prime minister’s.
In accordance with the Pakistani constitution, these lawmakers were forced to resign for voting against their party, and 20 of the seats went to polls on Sunday. EFE