Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Sport | By Joe Gonzales

Pakistan votes after bitter campaign marred by violence

Pakistan votes after bitter campaign marred by violence

Former cricket star Imran Khan declared victory Thursday for his party in Pakistani elections marred by violence, dealing another sharp blow to one of the country's most powerful political dynasties.

Supporters of Pakistani politician Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, celebrate projected unofficial results announced by television channels indicating their candidates' success in the parliamentary elections in Islamabad, Pakistan, on July 25, 2018.

Sharif, who replaced his brother and former prime Minister Nawaz Sharif as the party's candidate said he was "heartbroken" by the incident and offered his condolences to the bereaved families. The results had been due by around 2 a.m. (2100 GMT on Wednesday).

Pakistan's top election official batted away allegations of ballot-rigging Thursday, July 26, defending an ongoing delay in the formal vote count as a technical issue.

In Bani Gala, a suburb of the capital Islamabad, media massed outside the polling station where Khan is due to cast his vote; while in the eastern city of Lahore heavy contingents of police and military could be seen ahead of polls opening.

However, final results have been delayed and opponents have alleged vote rigging.

Jailed former premier Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) trailed with 61 seats and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led in 40, with the other rest split among smaller parties.

"There's no conspiracy, nor any pressure in delay of the results".

As the chief of the party, Khan won his first seat in the national assembly in the 2002 general elections, while contesting from Mianwali, Punjab, hometown to his parents.

In a victory speech, Mr Khan acknowledged that fixing the economy was the "greatest challenge" and he would implement wide-ranging reforms.

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Polling in the General Election 2018 concluded at 6.00pm on Wednesday, as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected requests from major political parties of the country, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People's Party (PPP), to extend the time for an hour.

These elections are the second in Pakistan's history in which a government was able to complete its term. Sharif has clashed repeatedly with the military over the years and was jailed this month on corruption charges, which he is appealing.

The uncertainty of the outcome of the vote - no single party appeared assured of a simple majority win - could also lead to prolonged post-election jockeying that would hamper the forming of the next government.

"I anticipate the debate over rigging will occupy the political elite for some time", she said. The army has also dismissed allegations of meddling in the election.

Holding up the example of closest ally China, he said the country has managed to drag enormous numbers of people out of poverty over the last 30 years.

This election has also been plagued by accusations of pre-poll rigging and manipulation leveled by some political parties against the military establishment in favor of PTI, although both military and PTI have rubbished such accusations. One, a shopkeeper named Raees Ahmed, said, "He could have easily lived in London, but he came for us, for democracy and for civilian supremacy".

However, the PML-N claims there has been a targeted crackdown of its activities by the intelligence services, with the help of the courts.

According to a CNN report, South Asia expert Michael Kugelman states that despite Khan's promise of a "New Pakistan", the military will continue to hold a dominant position in the hierarchy of power in the nation.

Khan's party spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, showed confidence as the early projections were broadcast, saying in a tweet "Congratulations to the nation on a new Pakistan!"

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