The counting of votes is underway in Pakistan for the country’s national and provincial elections. The polls did not bring good news for Nawaz Sharif who is said to have the backing of the Pakistani army. While Sharif was expecting a win, in an unexpected turn of events, independent candidates receiving support from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) appeared to be gaining momentum in the initial results released late on Thursday, creating ripples throughout the political landscape. This surprising development unfolded despite the continued imprisonment of the party’s founder, Imran Khan, and amid concerns about an uneven playing field.
The situation is such that Nawaz Sharif, who contested two seats – Lahore and Mansehra – faced defeat from one of them. Sharif won the Lahore seat but lost to PTI-backed independent candidate Yasmin Rashid from the Mansehra seat.
Despite assurances from the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) regarding the timely disclosure of election results, not a single constituency’s outcome was announced by 2 o’clock, causing frustration and heightened uncertainty in an already tense political environment. The results were to be declared by 2 am but the same has not been achieved even by 1 pm today. Since the counting was halted, PTI alleged rigging of votes in favour of PML-N.
However, in the early hours of Friday, as a limited number of results started to emerge, supporters of all PTI-backed independent candidates gathered at the party’s central secretariat, initiating celebrations labelled as victory. PTI Chairman Gauhar Khan asserted that their candidates were leading on 150 National Assembly seats. Sharif’s PML-N and Bilawal Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party were leading on 47 seats each.
These projections came as a shock for the party of three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. However, similar to the ECP, the PML-N also maintained a reserved stance without making any public statements. Voters will elect 266 candidates to the Pakistan National Assembly, who will later, by a majority vote, elect the next prime minister.