Pakistan has to wait past midnight to know general election results

Arnold Nichols
July 26, 2018

At the time of going to press, the PTI led in 107 National Assembly constituencies against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif, which was leading in 71 seats.

Another person was killed in firing outside a Mirpurkhas polling station in NA-219 Dighri area, the report said.

Pakistanis were voting Wednesday in a historic third straight election ending a campaign marred by widespread allegations of manipulation that local and global rights group have said imperil the country's wobbly transition to democratic rule.

According to reports in Pakistan media, it has been a fierce battle between jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab.

The US remained non-committal on sending its election observers in Pakistan.

PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari termed the situation "inexcusable and outrageous", saying he has not received the official results from any of the constituencies that he is contesting even though it is past midnight. Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP) leader Raza Haroon made the same claim about the treatment meted out to their agents at different polling stations across Karachi.

Election officials reminded candidates their results will be nullified if the female voter turnout didn't reach 10 percent.

"This is an outright rigging and the results based on massive rigging will cause irreparable damage to the country", he said in a tweet. "So far, we are controlling our supporters, but we won't be able to convince them to exercise restraint if the results were manipulated against our party".

"This is complete chaos", analyst Azeema Cheema told AFP.

"Some five other parties including PPP have raised the rigging issue in polls".

"We have got our Naya Pakistan", Shahid Ali, one of the supporters, said as he danced euphorically near the busy Faizabad interchange, which links Islamabad with the garrison city of Rawalpindi.

Thirty-one people are dead after a suicide bomber struck outside a crowded polling station in Quetta, Pakistan, during general election voting Wednesday for the third consecutive civilian government.

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Pakistani security personnel gather at the site of a suicide attack near a polling station in Quetta on July 25, 2018.

Almost 106 million people were eligible to vote in the parliamentary election in what is meant to be a rare democratic transition in the nuclear-armed country, which has been ruled by the powerful military for roughly half its history.

Bhutto - son of slain prime minister Benazir Bhutto - and his PPP could be called upon to form a coalition with any victor.

Early unofficial results suggest his PTI party are in the lead, but it will need to form a coalition if it is unable to secure a simple majority.

Gallup Pakistan estimated turnout at between 50 to 55 percent in an electorate of almost 106 million, similar to the previous contest in 2013.

Early voting was heavy at some polling stations in Islamabad, the capital, and the Punjab provincial capital, with several political party leaders standing in line to cast their ballots.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which has been overtaken by Khan's PTI as the main challenger to PML-N but is widely seen as the likely kingmaker, has also alleged intimidation by spy agencies.

Despite the intensified security, another suicide bomber struck on Wednesday morning near a polling station in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, killing 31 people, officials said.

The front-runner is former cricket star Imran Khan - who ran on an anti-corruption and nationalist platform.

The military has rejected the accusations.

No group has yet claimed the attack.

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