© Reuters. Supporters of Pakistani former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), attend a protest demanding free and truthful outcomes of the election, in Peshawar, Pakistan, February 10, 2024. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz
By Ariba Shahid and Charlotte Greenfield
ISLAMABAD (Reuters) -Candidates backed by the party of jailed Pakistani opposition chief Imran Khan plan to form a government, a senior aide to the previous prime minister stated on Saturday, urging supporters to peacefully protest if remaining election outcomes are usually not launched.
The nation of 241 million individuals voted on Thursday in a basic election, because the nation struggles to recuperate from an financial disaster and battles militant violence in a deeply polarised political atmosphere.
Both Khan and his important rival, three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, declared victory on Friday, growing uncertainty over who will form the subsequent government at a time when swift coverage motion is required to tackle a number of challenges.
Gohar Khan, the chairman of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-Insaf (PTI) party who additionally acts as the previous prime minister’s lawyer, referred to as on “all institutions” in Pakistan to respect his party’s mandate.
At a press convention, he stated if full outcomes of the polls weren’t launched by Saturday night time, the party would maintain peaceable protests on Sunday outdoors government places of work returning election outcomes across the nation.
Hundreds of Khan’s supporters rallied within the northwestern metropolis of Peshawar led by two of his aides who stated they’d been declared losers regardless of having received the polls.
“We never expected it would happen to us,” stated Taimur Khan Jhagra, considered one of Khan’s former provincial ministers.
The protesters chanted slogans in opposition to what they referred to as a vote fraud.
Sharif stated on Friday his party had emerged as the only largest group and would speak to different teams to form a coalition government.
By 5 p.m. (1200 GMT) on Saturday, outcomes had been nonetheless not in for 10 of the 265 seats contested within the election – 48 hours after the polls closed.
The newest tally, posted on the election fee’s web site, confirmed unbiased candidates had received 100 seats, with Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) taking 72 seats.
At least 90 of the victorious unbiased candidates had been backed by Khan and his party, a Reuters evaluation confirmed – placing them nicely forward of Sharif’s party.
Khan’s supporters had been operating as independents as a result of they’d been barred from contesting the polls beneath his party’s electoral image by the election fee for not complying with electoral legal guidelines.
Despite the ban and Khan’s imprisonment for convictions on prices starting from leaking state secrets and techniques to corruption to an illegal marriage, hundreds of thousands of the previous cricketer’s supporters got here out to vote for him, though he can’t be a part of any government whereas he stays in jail.
However, beneath Pakistan’s electoral legal guidelines, unbiased candidates are usually not eligible to be allotted reserved seats, 70 of that are meant to be distributed in accordance to party energy. Sharif’s party might stand up to 20 of those seats.
Khan’s shut aide and media adviser, Zulfi Bukhari, informed Reuters the party would announce throughout the subsequent day the party banner they’ll ask independents to be a part of. In Pakistan, unbiased candidates can not form a government on their very own and want to be a part of a party.
“And we have no fear of independents going anywhere, because these are the people who have struggled for the last 18 months and endured all kinds of torture and oppression,” Bukhari informed Reuters in a WhatsApp voice message.
Whoever seeks to form the subsequent government would wish assist from different events with nobody shut to the seat threshold for a easy majority in parliament.
Beside Khan and Sharif, the Pakistan Peoples Party of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated premier Benazir Bhutto, stays a serious participant with no less than 53 seats.
The relaxation had been received by small events and different independents. This units up a interval of intense political negotiations over the subsequent few days earlier than a parliamentary vote to elect a brand new prime minister and government can happen.
“No one can form a government without us,” Bhutto Zardari informed native Geo TV.
Pakistan’s military chief congratulated the nation on Saturday for the “successful conduct” of the election, saying the nation wanted “stable hands” to transfer on from the politics of “anarchy and polarisation”.
The army stays the nation’s strongest establishment and has for many years had an enormous position in making and breaking governments. Khan accuses the army of a crackdown on him and his party. The army denies this.
From jail, Khan launched an audio-visual message created with synthetic intelligence moderately than having a press release learn out by his legal professionals, as is often the case, wherein he rejected Sharif’s declare to victory.
In the message posted on social media platform X, he referred to as on his supporters to have a good time what he referred to as a win that had been achieved regardless of a crackdown on his party and alleged ballot rigging to restrict the success of PTI-backed candidates.
The United States, Britain and the European Union on Friday every expressed issues concerning the electoral course of, urging a probe into reported irregularities.
British Foreign Secretary David Cameron cited “serious concerns” that raised questions “about the fairness and lack of inclusivity of the elections”.
Pakistan’s international workplace responded to the feedback on Saturday, saying they ignored the “undeniable fact” that the election had been efficiently performed.
“It is our hope that the process will be concluded effectively and it will reflect the will of the people,” stated former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who’s main the Commonwealth crew to observe the voting.
Jonathan referred to as on these with grievances over the election to increase them in keeping with the legal guidelines of Pakistan.