Pakistan’s former cricketer Imran Khan and his party Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) are celebrating their unannounced victory as the official proclamation of the results are being delayed.
The journalists are stunned the delay in declarations of results was unprecedented.
“I’ve been covering elections for over twenty-five years and this is the first time that it is one in the morning and until now we barely have 20 percent of the results. Why are the results so late? The election commission has to answer for this. This is really alarming,” Geo News’ ( private Pakistani TV news channel) Hamid Mir said.
It is instructive to note here that all major political parties, arguably for the first time in Pakistan’s history, have alleged some or the other form of electoral malpractices and claimed that the polls were rigged. The only exception to this remains Imran Khan-led PTI.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) said it would reject the result amid widespread allegations that the military was rigging the ballot in favour of the PTI.
With only a third of the vote counted by 3am – an hour after the result was officially due. The results continued to trickle down in slowly, while PTI supporters celebrated in the street.
More than a dozen domestic TV channels projected that the PTI would get as many as 119 seats out of a total 272 in the lower-house, exceeding expectations and delivering the role of prime minister to Khan for the first time.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), an independent body, blamed the delay in announcing the result on a breakdown in the Results Transmission Software it purchased from a British company.
“There’s no conspiracy, nor any pressure in delay of the results,” the ECP secretary, Babar Yaqoob, told reporters. “The delay is being caused because the result transmission system has collapsed.”
ALL PARTIES EXCEPT PTI CRIES FOUL
But Shehbaz Sharif, the leader of the PMLN, said his party “wholly rejects” the result of the election, telling a press conference that his party’s polling agents had been evicted from dozens of stations by security officials before a final tally was reached, leaving them unable to monitor potential tampering.
“The mandate of millions of people who came out to vote has been humiliated. Our democratic process has been pushed back by decades,” said Sharif.
Bilawal Bhutto, the leader of the liberal Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) – the country’s third-largest party – tweeted it was “inexcusable and outrageous” that his activists had been excluded “across the country”.
It’s now past midnight & I haven’t received official results from any constituency I am contesting my myself. My candidates complaining polling agents have been thrown out of polling stations across the country. Inexcusable & outrageous.
— BilawalBhuttoZardari (@BBhuttoZardari) July 25, 2018
The complaint was echoed by his rival Khadim Rizvi, the foul-mouthed cleric who leads the far-right Islamist group, Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP). “This is the worst rigging in history,” said a spokesman for Rizvi.
The PMLN senator Musadik Malik told journalists that security officials had taken over proceedings inside polling stations, with a particular focus on constituencies where the race was close between the PTI and PMLN.
“If what most political parties are alleging is true,” Aqil Shah of Oklahoma University said, “it would be the biggest theft of an election since the 1970s”, adding that the the parties should “unite and demand a repeat.”
PTI leaders batted away the claims. Pakistan’s likely next finance minister Asad Umar said that only those “sympathetic to India” were crying foul, while the rest of Pakistan “can see the country is going towards betterment.”