Pakistan election: Imran Khan projected to win

Geneva Stokes
July 26, 2018

But campaigning has been plagued for months by allegations the powerful armed forces have been trying to tilt the race in Mr Khan's favour after falling out with the outgoing ruling party of Mr Sharif, who was jailed on corruption charges this month.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has called the count an "assault on democracy" in a country which has a history of military rule. As Mike Armstrong explains, the election results could have wider repercussions for the region. More than 11,000 candidates vied for 270 seats in the National Assembly, and 577 seats in four provincial assemblies. Results were delayed because the agency's results transmission system - in use for the first time in Pakistan - broke down due to pressure overloads, he said in a separate press briefing. Television projections give his party hardly 61 seats.

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In other areas, it said, "polling staff appeared to be biased toward a certain party", without naming the party.

The military deployed some 350,000 troops to secure the country's 85,000 polling stations.

"Claims of electing rigging occur after every election in Pakistan - but this time around, they will be harder to brush aside given the overt role the military has played", said Shamila Chaudhary, a former White House and State Department official who's now a fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistan ambassador to the United States, said that the result of the election was "foretold".

During the count, outgoing PML-N Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan tweeted that official result forms were not given at hundreds of polling stations, decrying what he called "blatant, callous, shameless rigging".

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Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz or PML-N was ahead in 66 constituencies, and the Pakistan Peoples Party or PPP, led by the son of assassinated two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto, led in 39 constituencies.

The PML-N president also said reports were received from different parts of the country that results were not being given on Form 45.

"PML-N and PPP were running under constraints and PTI was operating with complete freedom and establishment backing".

Election authorities granted military officers broad powers inside polling centres which further stirred fears of manipulation.

The elections mark only the second time in Pakistan's 70-year history that a civilian government has completed a full term and handed over power to another civilian administration through the ballot box.

The military, which has ruled Pakistan for almost half of its 71-year history, denies any effort to influence the election.

The build-up to the elections was marred by allegations that the all-powerful army was trying to manipulate the process and install a PTI-led government.

At least one party - Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), which blockaded the capital Islamabad for weeks previous year over blasphemy - has already announced they are planning protests.

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