In Pakistan, the counting of votes is underway after a midnight drama when the counting was halted at a time when Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf backed independent candidates are leading on over 154 seats as claimed by the party leaders. While Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N was leading at around 50 seats, their numbers increased after the counter restarted and hence the PTI alleged manipulation of votes in favour of Nawaz.
While PML-N and Bilawal Bhutto’s PPP are leading on around 47 seats each as per trends, PTI has claimed that those trying to play with public mandate won’t succeed. Former Pakistani PM Shehbaz Sharif who is also Nawaz Sharif’s brother won from the Lahore seat.
The main contests are being seen between candidates backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the last national election, and the PML-N of Sharif, who is being backed by the powerful military. With counting continuing today, a clear picture was likely to emerge only later in the day.
A party needs 133 seats in parliament for a simple majority and if the trends are to be believed, Imran Khan may cause an upset. Sharif, considered by many observers to be a strong candidate, dismissed talk of an unclear result.
There was a significant deployment of troops across the country, particularly at polling stations, to ensure security during an election. The temporary closure of borders with Iran and Afghanistan suggests a comprehensive effort to maintain stability. Unfortunately, despite these measures, there were tragic incidents involving bomb blasts, grenade attacks, and shootings by militants, resulting in the loss of lives, including two children.
The specific incidents mentioned include the killing of five police officers in a bomb blast and firing on a patrol in the Kulachi area of Dera Ismail Khan district in the northwest. Additionally, two children lost their lives in a blast outside a women’s polling station in Balochistan.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also expressed concern about the violence and the suspension of mobile communications services, his spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement.