Imran Khan’s PTI leads in much-delayed election results
GB news 24 desk//
Massive delays and allegations of rigging dominated the early hours of Thursday in Pakistan, where official election results were still not announced even 12 hours after polling ended. Preliminary results, however, indicated that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had obtained a clear edge over other parties as results trickled in.
Although PTI workers and supporters started celebrations before the final results, no statement — or even a tweet — has been issued by Khan on his victory. His spokesperson Naeemul Haque, however, tweeted that the PTI chief will “address the nation” today at 2pm “in celebration and recognition of the massive support received from the people of Pakistan in the 2018 elections which was a contest between the forces of good and evil”.
According to AFP, Gallup Pakistan estimated voter turnout at between 50 to 55 per cent in an electorate of nearly 106 million — similar to the previous contest in 2013.
Based on reporting of 47 per cent of polling stations, PTI is leading on 114 National Assembly seats, while the PML-N trails behind with 64 and the PPP-Parliamentarians (PPP-P) is at third spot with 42 seats.
In Punjab, with preliminary results from 50pc polling stations available with ECP, PML-N is currently holding its lead on 129 provincial seats but PTI is closing in with a lead on 122 seats.
Meanwhile, PTI is clearly steering ahead in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a lead on 64 seats against Muttahida Majlis–e–Amal (MMA), which is currently leading on 12 seats, as per reporting from 35pc polling stations in the province.
The preliminary results from 37pc polling stations in Sindh show PPP-P leading on 75 seats, followed by PTI on 22 seats.
In Balochistan, Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) is leading on 12 provincial seats, followed by Balochistan National Party (BNP) on 9 seats, based on unofficial results from 35pc polling stations.
According to Geo News, Awami National Party leader Ghulam Ahmed Bilour conceded defeat to PTI’s Shaukat Ali, his competitor on Peshawar’s NA-31 seat, saying: “The results indicate that Imran Khan is a favourite leader of the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. I am a democratic person and I admit the defeat.”
Counting is still going on at the polling stations of different constituencies.
UNOFFICIAL RESULTS — 100% VOTE COUNT
PTI’s Asad Umar wins NA-54 (Islamabad-III) with 56,945 votes; PML-N’s Anjum Aqeel runner up with 32,991 votes.
MMA’s Moulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali wins NA-1 (Chitral) with 26,133 votes; PTI’s Abdul Latif runner up with 17,644 votes.
PTI’s Malik Karamat Ali wins NA-135 (Lahore-XIII) with 54,765 votes; PML-N’s Malik Saiful Malook runner up with 55,431 votes.
DELAY IN RESULTS
At a 4am press conference, the Election Commission of Pakistan said that “technical difficulties” were behind the unprecedented delay.
CEC Muhammad Raza Khan congratulated the people of Pakistan for participating in a “democratic polling process”, and expressed gratitude for the polling staff across the country as well as the security personnel deployed on Wednesday.
“I am aware that the delay in announcement of results has caused some annoyance. But it [Results Transmission System (RTS)] was a new system and we were implementing it for the first time. Therefore, there was some delay,” said the CEC.
Regarding political parties’ grievances about polling agents not being given Form 45 (the statement of vote count) by presiding officers, he said: “It is not possible that a polling agent was not given the form. If there are any genuine complaints, we will take strict action.”
To a question of how he would respond to allegations of rigging in the election, the CEC confidently replied: “We will prove ourselves that we did our job right.”
He announced what he called the “first non-official, preliminary result” of the elections: PTI’s Chaudhry Adnan won PP-11 (Rawalpindi VI) with 43,089 votes.
Earlier, in the day ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob rejected the notion that there was any ‘conspiracy’ behind the delay in transmission of elections results. “The only reason for delay was a technical fault in the Results Transmission System (RTS), which stopped working when thousands of polling officers began using it simultaneously,” he clarified.
He made it clear that the election body had so far not released any official results. Yaqoob said that the complaints by political parties regarding katchi receipts were being addressed and action would be taken on all genuine complaints.
He added that the ECP is compiling results that have been received via scanned copies of Form 45 and it had set aside the RTS for the time being to expedite the collation of polling data.
Earlier, an ECP spokesperson had confirmed to DawnNewsTV that the delay was due to the breaking down of RTS, which is being run through a software powered by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).
According to data released by ECP, a total of 3,459 candidates — 1,623 from Punjab, 824 from Sindh, 725 from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and 287 from Balochistan — were cleared to run for the 272 general seats of the national assembly. However, elections in two constituencies — NA-60, NA-108 — were later postponed by the commission.
A single party will need to bag at least 137 of the directly elected seats to be able to form the government on its own.
PML-N, PPP CRY FOUL
PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif at a mid-vote count press conference said his party rejects the poll results. In a tweet, he said the party had rejected the results “due to manifest and massive irregularities”.
“Form-45 was not given to our agents, results were stopped and votes were counted in the absence of our polling agents. This is both unbearable and unacceptable,” he said.
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also tweeted saying he had not received any official results from any constituency where he was contesting, despite it being past midnight. “My candidates [have been] complaining [that] polling agents have been thrown out of polling stations across the country. Inexcusable and outrageous.”
PPP’s Sherry Rehman also claimed that “there has been a clear trend of interference, in which all parties except one are being pushed to the wall”.
“The whole election could be declared null and void considering just what has occurred over the last three hours,” she said, adding that the party expects its complaints to be addressed by midnight.
PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb, while speaking to the media, raised objections over the counting process and alleged that the party’s agents were being forced out from the polling stations in various constituencies.
“The counting process is being carried out behind closed doors and changes are being made to Form-45,” Aurangzeb alleged while talking to media persons.
In response, the provincial election commissioner in Punjab categorically denied the allegations levelled by PML-N. “Political leaders should refrain from levelling such baseless allegations without having any substantial proof,” the ECP official said.
Explaining the process, the election commissioner clarified that only one polling agent of every party is allowed inside the polling station at the time of counting of votes.
PPP’s Maula Bux Chandio alleged that his party’s agents were not allowed inside polling stations in Badin while PSP leader Raza Haroon made the same claim about the treatment meted out to his party’s agents at different polling stations across Karachi.
The PPP, according to APP, had registered over 240 complaints with the ECP regarding deliberate delay in the polling process to restrict maximum number of people to cast their votes, restriction of polling agents’ presence during the vote counting process and non-provision of Form 45 by polling staff to the agents in time.
MILLIONS FLOCK TO POLLS
Millions of registered voters flocked to polling stations across the country today to cast their vote in Pakistan’s 11th general election. According to DawnNewsTV, the first vote was cast in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda district.
Halfway during polling, the PML-N sent a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, seeking an extension in time by one hour. “The PML-N is making this demand under Section 70 of the Elections Act 2017, which authorises ECP to ‘extend polling hours already fixed’,” read the letter, signed by Senator Mushahid Hussain.
Citing “large-scale nationwide complaints”, the letter added that only “3-4 people” are being allowed to enter the polling station at one time, slowing down the process. “This is not only causing inconvenience to voters […] but may also end up depriving people from their right of vote.”
PPP, PTI and Awami Muslim League (AML) Chief Sheikh Rashid had also requested the ECP to extend the polling time.
The ECP, after deliberation, rejected the requests for an extension of one hour. In a press release, the ECP said that all those who were present at polling stations before 6pm would be allowed to cast their votes.
Earlier in the day, before polling stations officially opened for voting at 8am, enthusiastic citizens had queued up outside their respective stations as early as 7am.
At 371,388, a record number of troops were deployed at polling stations at the ECP’s request to maintain law and order and take action against harassment. A total of 8,508 polling stations and 244,687 polling booths were established across the country.
Around 17,007 polling stations were declared “highly sensitive”.