PTI-Backed Independents Dominate Pakistan Election Results Amid Delay and Controversy

The election commission of Pakistan has announced the results of the general election held on Thursday, with independent candidates backed by former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s backed Independents leading the race for the National Assembly. The announcement came after a long delay that sparked accusations of rigging and manipulation from the main opposition parties.

According to the commission, out of the 265 contested seats in the lower house of parliament, candidates supported by Khan’s party had won 49 seats, followed by the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif with 39 seats, and the Pakistan People’s Party of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari with 30 seats. The remaining seats were distributed among small parties or non-aligned independents.

The commission also announced the results of the four provincial assemblies, where Khan’s allies also performed well, especially in Punjab, the most populous and politically influential province. The results are still unofficial and subject to verification and challenges.

Khan’s party, PTI, was barred from the election, and his supporters contested as independents, after the Supreme Court and the Election Commission disqualified him from running due to criminal convictions that he says were politically motivated.

The election was marred by sporadic violence, a countrywide mobile phone shutdown, and allegations of irregularities and fraud. The chief election commissioner said the results were delayed due to a “lack of connectivity” resulting from security precautions. However, many opposition parties and candidates claimed that their polling agents were abducted, coerced, or denied access to the counting process, and that the results were being manipulated in favor of Khan’s allies.

Sharif struck a confident and defiant note on polling day, brushing off suggestions his Pakistan Muslim League party might not win an outright majority in the parliament.

He returned to the country last October after four years of self-imposed exile abroad to avoid serving prison sentences. Within weeks of his return, his convictions were overturned, leaving him free to seek a fourth term in office

Bhutto Zardari, the son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto who was assassinated in 2007, also expressed doubts over the credibility of the election and demanded a probe into the alleged rigging. He said his party would not accept any result that was not based on the will of the people.

The election was seen as a crucial test for Pakistan’s democracy, which has been interrupted by several military coups in its 74-year history.

The Election Commission also started announcing the results of the four provincial assemblies in the country. The commission was posting results on its website more than 15 hours after polls closed.

The international community, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and China, has congratulated Pakistan for holding the elections, and has called for a peaceful and democratic transition of power.

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