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Pak polls indicate rot yet to paralyse the electoral system

Editorials 2024-02-09, 8:01pm


Nawaz Sharif (left) is tipped to win the poll, while Imran Khan (right) has been barred from contesting. BBC News

The steef fight by independent candidates backed by the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf party in their National Assembly election, as reflected by preliminary results gives two clear messages; 1. Imran Khan continues to be extremely popular among his people and 2. Despite the allegations about strong anti-Khan overtures of the administration the electoral system has not failed as has been feared.  

As reported by the BBC News, Independents backed by Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have won at least 49 seats by late Friday afternoon, official results from the Electoral Commission show, according to news agency AFP.

PTI's results are against 42 for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and 34 for the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), according to the Election Commission. A political party needs 133 out of 265 National Assembly seats seats for a simple majority.

Delay in the announcement of results fuelled speculations of rigging, because normally the winner would have been by early Friday as voting ended at 5 pm on the day before. While some people told journalists that they thought returning officers were holding back results because of the fear that they might be tempered with, election commission spokesperson said the delay was an Internet issue. 

PTI backed candidates have fought against three odds; they ran as independent candidates with different symbols as their party registration as well as symbol symbol were cancelled; party chief Imran Khan remained in jail under several convictions while most candidates had to campaign from hiding. Attracting votes without an identical symbol has been considered an obstacle for the PTI backed candidades. Yet their performance has proved better that those of the Pakistan Muslim League of Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party of Bilalwal Bhutto Zardari. Although delayed announcement of results has attracted criticism of rigging, there have not been allegations of irregularities in vote casting at the behest of election officials.