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Imran Khan's PTI emerges as single largest party amid allegations of vote rigging

Friday, July 27, 2018
By Sajjad Hussain

Islamabad: Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly today with its candidates winning 76 seats and leading in 43 others according to the latest unofficial results and trends in the parliamentary polls, amid rival political parties' claim of "blatant" rigging.

Jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won 43 seats and was leading in 20 constituencies while Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by former president Asif Ali Zardari won 18 seats and its candidates were leading in 19 seats.

A single party will need at least 137 of the directly elected seats to be able to form the government on its own.

The Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) -- an alliance of traditional religious parties such as Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, Jamiat Ulema-e-Pakistan and Tehreek-e-Jafaria -- and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) were leading in eight seats each.

In the eastern city of Lahore, capital of Punjab province and the country's political heartland, PTI supporters rejoiced by waving flags and raising party slogans as results trickled in after the voting yesterday.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) officially announced the first result at 4.00am.

While final results are expected in the coming hours, initial outcomes show that the PTI was emerging as the single largest party in the National Assembly.

Pakistan's National Assembly comprises a total of 342 members, of which 272 are directly elected whereas the rest - 60 seats reserved for women and 10 for religious minorities - are selected later through proportional representation among parties with more than five per cent of the vote.

A party can only form the government if it manages to clinch 172 seats in total.

The two main parties - PML-N and PPP - have raised questions on the transparency of the vote counting process, alleging their polling agents were not allowed to verify vote counts as is mandated by law.

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif, who is hoping to become the next prime minister after the jailing of his brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a corruption case, rejected the election results, alleging "blatant" rigging.

He did not say who he believes could have rigged the polls, but allegations of manipulating the elections have been made against the country's influential military.

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