Pakistan Election: Independents Backed By Imran Khan Win 60 Out Of 147 Announced Seats | World News

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New Delhi: Independents backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan emerged as the frontrunners in Pakistan’s election on Friday, as the results of 147 out of 235 contested seats were announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). The political parties lagged behind in the race, raising the prospects of a hung parliament. The independent candidates supported by Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was barred from the election, secured 60 seats.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won 43 while the Pakistan Peoples Party of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated premier Benazir Bhutto, got 37. MQM bagged 4 seats, while JUIP, BNP and PMLQ got one seat each, according to the results declared by the ECP at 4.30 pm PKT.

The results of 118 seats are still awaited, as the counting process was delayed by an “internet issue”, according to Zafar Iqbal, special secretary at the ECP. The government attributed the unusual delay to the suspension of mobile phone services, a security measure ahead of Thursday’s election.

The rest of the seats were won by small parties and other independents, who have the option to join any party after the elections. Independent members cannot form a government on their own under Pakistan’s complex election system, which also includes reserved seats that will be allotted to parties based on their winnings.

Analysts have predicted that there may be no clear winner, adding to the woes of a country struggling to recover from an economic crisis while it grapples with rising militant violence in a deeply polarised political environment.

“A timely announcement of the results, leading to a smooth formation of a new government will reduce policy and political uncertainty,” Moody’s Investors Service said. “This is crucial for the country that is facing very challenging macroeconomic conditions.”

The delay in the announcement of results also rattled the markets, as Karachi’s stock index and Pakistan’s sovereign bonds fell because of the uncertainty.

The main electoral battle was expected to be between candidates backed by Khan, whose PTI won the last national election, and the PML-N of Sharif. Khan believes that the powerful military is behind a crackdown to hound his party out of existence, while analysts and opponents say that Sharif is being backed by the generals.

The military has dominated the nuclear-armed country either directly or indirectly in its 76 years of independence, but for several years it has maintained that it does not interfere in politics.

Sharif, considered by many observers to be a strong candidate, has dismissed talk of an unclear result, but a close aide, Ishaq Dar, told GEO TV that the party could form a coalition with the support of independents.

“I am confident that we will form a government,” Dar said.

IMF BAILOUT

If the election does not result in a clear majority for anyone, as analysts are predicting, tackling multiple challenges will be tricky – foremost being seeking a new bailout programme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the current arrangement expires in three weeks.

A coalition government “would probably be unstable, weak” and “the big loser…will be the army. Because the army really has staked its reputation on its ability to deliver this vote”, news agency Reuters quoted Marvin Weinbaum, Director of Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies at the Middle East Institute in Washington, as saying.

The election was expected to help resolve the crises Pakistan has been dealing with, but a fractured verdict “could very well be the basis for even deeper exposure to forces which would create instability”, he said.

Thousands of troops were deployed on the streets and at polling stations across the country for the voting on Thursday.

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