Pakistan poll results being announced as ‘delay’ raises eyebrows; PTI-backed candidates win 3 KP seats
ISLAMABAD — The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced first results of the 2024 polls in the early hours of Friday, more than 10 hours after voting ended amid allegations of rigging, sporadic violence and a countrywide mobile phone shutdown.
ECP Special Secretary Zafar Iqbal declared the first results at a press conference in Islamabad around 3 am Friday.
Samiullah Khan, an independent backed by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s PTI, won the PK-76 seat of the Kyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial assembly by securing over 18,000 votes, he said.
Independent candidate Fazal Hakeem Khan, also backed by the PTI, took 25,330 votes to win PK-6, he said.
PTI-backed independent candidate Ali Shah has bagged Swat’s PK-4 constituency as per initial results from the Election Commission of Pakistan. He secured 30,022 votes.
The polls closed Thursday 5 pm and ballot counting began but there was no clear picture till about 3 am Friday from the ECP about which party was leading.
As political parties complained about the delay and questioned the poll authority, the ECP directed all the provincial election commissioners and returning officers to announce the results within half an hour or else face strict action.
In a press release issued well past the midnight, the electoral watchdog also said the statements being run by media channels regarding the ECP were not true. When asked about the delay, Zafar Iqbal told the press conference it was because the Returning Officers were still compiling the results. He also rejected the PTI’s claim that the ECP was manipulating the results to “control the victory” of the party.
“This is not the case. By Friday morning, results will come to fore,” Iqbal said.
Earlier, the Returning Officers had allegedly stopped issuing results to the media following an “apparent victory” of the PTI most seats in Punjab and Kyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces.
PTI chairman Barrister Gohar Khan in a statement claimed his party has won over 150 national assembly seats and also is in a position to form governments in Punjab and KPK. He urged the ECP to announce all results without any further delay.
The caretaker government of Pakistan was yet to restore cellphone and mobile internet services in the country which were shut down just before 8 am on Thursday citing security issues on the polling day.
PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, currently the military establishment’s favourite, left his party office for home late Thursday night after receiving a report of “shock defeat”, a PML-N insider told the Press Trust of India (PTI).
“Nawaz Sharif, his brother Shehbaz Sharif, daughter Maryam Nawaz who had gathered at the Model Town party office left late Thursday night for home after knowing the PML-N’s humiliating defeat in the polls,” he said.
Nawaz Sharif was far lagging behind in Lahore’s NA-130 and Mansahra’s NA-15 constituencies.
Former prime minister Imran Khan, the founding-chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is behind bars and barred from contesting. PTI candidates are running as independents after they were not allowed to use the party symbol – a cricket bat.
Imran Khan’s close aide and senior PTI leader Zulfi Bukhari posted on X, “Counting is being stopped and results are being changed at many places! Mainly Punjab. This is the second half of counting & the point when manipulation takes place while #PTI is clearly leading. Is the world watching?”
PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said on X, “Results are incredibly slow coming in. However, initial results are very encouraging! PPP candidates and independents whom we have supported/ engaged with seem to be doing well! Let’s see what the final tally is in the end “
A countrywide public holiday was declared to enable more than 12 crore voters to cast their ballots. The polling percentage is not yet known. In the 2018 elections, overall voter turnout across the nation was 51.7 per cent.
In total 266 National Assembly seats were up for grabs out of 336, but polling was postponed on at least one seat after a candidate was killed in a gun attack in Bajaur. Another 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 for minorities, and are allotted to the winning parties based on proportional representation.
A party must win 133 seats out of 265 being contested to form the government.