As counting of votes concludes in Pakistan, independents, mostly backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e Insaf (PTI) party, are leading in 101 of the 264 seats. This has been showed by the Pakistan Election Commission's website.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), independent candidates backed by PTI sprung a surprise, winning over 100 seats, well ahead of Sharif's PML-N, which took 72 seats. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), headed by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, won 54 seats, mostly in its stronghold Sindh. Other smaller parties won a combined 27 seats, the ECP said, and they could play a part in the event of a coalition government being formed.
PTI chairman Gohar Ali Khan, who also acts as Imran Khan's lawyer, said that "all institutions" in Pakistan should respect the people's mandate. He claimed that his party would be invited by President Arif Alvi to form the government and also stated that Imran Khan, who is in prison, would decide the country's next Prime Minister. He also said the PTI would stage peaceful protests outside returning officer's offices on Sunday if the election results were not released by Saturday night, according to local media reports.
However, despite PTI-backed independents getting the lion's share, they cannot form a government under Pakistan's electoral laws. They should join a party and then form a government. Independent candidates are also not eligible to be allocated reserved seats, 70 of which are meant to be distributed according to party strength.
Amid protests by PTI and other parties over the alleged rigging during the general elections, the Election Commission has ordered re-polling in some of the polling stations. The re-polling is scheduled for February 15.
Meanwhile, the PTI, PPP and PML-N have filed petitions in different courts over alleged rigging in their constituencies. The parties have claimed that candidates who were earlier declared winners were later notified as losers.
Pakistan Army Chief Syed Asim Munir praised the "successful conduct" of the election and said the country needed "stable hands" to move on from the politics of "anarchy and polarisation".
Pakistan, a country of 241 million people, voted on February 8 in a general election, as the nation struggles with an economic crisis and terrorism in a deeply polarised political environment. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has announced the results of 264 out of 265 contested seats.
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