© Reuters. Polling workers depend ballots at a polling station after polls closed, throughout the basic election, in Lahore, Pakistan, February 8, 2024. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar
(Corrects hours since polls closed in paragraph 6)
By Ariba Shahid and Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -Former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s social gathering was barely forward in early election results on Friday, after vote counts had been hit by uncommon delays that the authorities ascribed to a suspension of cell phone companies.
By 0600 GMT, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had introduced 47 results for the 265 contested seats in the National Assembly, with Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) successful 17 and supporters of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan 14.
Twelve seats had been taken by the Pakistan Peoples Party of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated premier Benazir Bhutto, it stated. The relaxation had been received by small events or non-aligned independents.
Khan is in jail and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) social gathering was barred from Thursday’s election, so his supporters contested as independents.
Analysts have predicted there could also be no clear winner in the election, including to the woes of a rustic struggling to recuperate from an financial disaster whereas it grapples with rising militant violence in a deeply polarised political surroundings.
Few results had been introduced over 18 hours after the polls closed, uncommon for elections in Pakistan. Karachi’s inventory index and Pakistan’s sovereign bonds fell due to the uncertainty.
An “internet issue” was the purpose behind the delay, Zafar Iqbal, particular secretary at the ECP, stated with out elaborating.
The authorities stated it suspended cell phone companies forward of the election on Thursday as a safety measure, they usually had been being partially restored.
The major battle was anticipated to be between candidates backed by Khan, whose PTI received the final nationwide election, and the PML-N of Sharif. Khan believes the highly effective army is behind a crackdown to hound his social gathering out of existence, whereas analysts and opponents say Sharif is being backed by the generals.
The army has dominated the nuclear-armed nation both instantly or not directly in its 76 years of independence however for a number of years it has maintained it doesn’t intrude in politics.
Sharif, thought-about by many observers to be a robust candidate, dismissed speak of an unclear consequence.
“Don’t talk about a coalition government. It is very important for a government to get a clear majority… It should not be relying on others,” he informed reporters on Thursday after casting his vote in the japanese metropolis of Lahore.
If the election doesn’t lead to a transparent majority for anybody, as analysts are predicting, tackling a number of challenges will likely be difficult – foremost being looking for a brand new bailout programme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the present association expires in three weeks.
“The deciding factor is which side the powerful military and its security agencies are on,” stated Abbas Nasir, a columnist, commenting on the chance that no social gathering would emerge as a transparent winner. “Only a huge turnout in favour of (Khan’s) PTI can change its fortunes.”
He added: “Economic challenges are so serious, grave, and the solutions so very painful that I am unsure how anyone who comes to power will steady the ship.”
Thousands of troops had been deployed on the streets and at polling stations throughout the nation for the voting on Thursday. Borders with Iran and Afghanistan had been briefly closed as safety was stepped up.
Despite the heightened safety, 12 folks, together with two youngsters, had been killed in 51 bomb blasts, grenade assaults and shootings by militants, largely in the western provinces, the army stated in a press release.
“Despite a few isolated incidents, the overall situation remained under control, demonstrating the effectiveness of our security measures,” caretaker Interior Minister Gohar Ejaz stated in a press release.
Washington was involved about “steps that were taken to restrict freedom of expression, specifically around internet and cellphone use,” State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel informed reporters.
The U.S. strongly condemned election-related violence each in the run-up to the polls and on election day, Patel added.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres additionally expressed concern about the violence and the suspension of cellular communications companies, his spokesperson stated in an e-mailed assertion.
Amnesty International referred to as the suspension of cellular companies “a blunt attack on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly”.