Imran Khan takes the lead in chaotic Pakistan election
Current ruling party vows to reject the result amid allegations of ballot rigging
The party led by former international cricketer Imran Khan has taken an early lead in Pakistan’s general election, which has been marred by violence and claims of cheating.
“Leaders of almost every political party except Khan's have alleged vote rigging, with some claiming their monitors did not receive final tallies or were asked to leave polling stations before tallying was finished,” reports CNN. “They also raised questions over why the results had been delayed.”
With about a third of the votes counted, Khan’s Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party looks set to topple the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN). Its candidates lead in 110 seats, while the PMLN leads in 68.
Most projections suggest that the PTI could secure as many as 120 seats in the 272-seat lower house, The Guardian reports, “exceeding expectations and delivering the role of prime minister to Khan for the first time”.
However, Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the PMLN and brother of disgraced former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has vowed to reject the election result, claiming widespread vote-rigging and manipulation in favour of the PTI.
“We will use all political and legal options for redressal of these glaring excesses,” he said. “This is an outright rigging and the results based on massive rigging will cause irreparable damage to the country.”
Delays in reporting the official results have been blamed on “technical failures in the electronic reporting system”, says the BBC, meaning many ballots have had to be counted manually.
The vote followed a campaign scarred by unrest and violence, including a suicide bombing at a rally in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and another blast that claimed 145 lives, including that of a parliamentary candidate, in Baluchistan.