Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Doubts raised in USA over fairness of Pakistan elections

Doubts raised in USA over fairness of Pakistan elections

A series of suicide bombings outside polling stations across the country killed dozens of people, and there are fears of more violence once the results are in.

Pakistan watchers in the United States today doubted the fairness of the general election for which Imran Khan's party received the army's backing while the PML-N and the PPP ran their campaigns "under constraints". As Mike Armstrong explains, the election results could have wider repercussions for the region.

With about half the votes counted from Wednesday's election, Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), or Pakistan Movement for Justice, was in a commanding lead in the nuclear-armed, Muslim-majority nation, the country's election commission said. "Pakistan has suffered today", he told journalists at a press conference.

With the PTI close behind the PML-N in the Punjab Assembly, independent candidates could eventually decide which of the two parties form the government in Pakistan's most populous province.

But Yaqoob said the vote-counting system, which he said was untested, had "crashed", adding: "There is definitely no conspiracy, no one wants to influence the results".

On the upcoming foreign policy, Imran said Pakistan is facing major challenges on the global level and said that the government will establish good relations with the neighbours, such as China. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf is leading in over 110 seats as the results keep trickling in.

Jeff M. Smith - from the Heritage Foundation - said it was important to acknowledge that a peaceful transition of power via a democratic election is still a rare commodity in Pakistan and thus would be a positive step forward.

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The PML-N - led by the former prime minister's younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif - was ahead in 64 seats.

Violent campaign: The lead up to the national election was also marred by violence and threats from militant groups as well as attacks on election day.

The military deployed 350,000 troops at polling stations across the country.

During the count, outgoing PML-N Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan tweeted that official result forms were not given at hundreds of polling stations, decrying what he called "blatant, callous, shameless rigging". Among those making the accusations was PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif, who was ousted as prime minister after a Supreme Court verdict in the Panama Papers investigation a year ago.

The PML-N and the PPP both said their monitors in many voting centres had not received the official notifications of the precinct's results, but instead got hand-written tallies that they could not verify. One candidate in the Sindh provincial assembly was unopposed and has already secured that seat.

Accusations of military interference: Wednesday's national election was dogged by accusations that Pakistan's powerful military was manipulating the election. The army has also dismissed allegations of meddling in the election.

The parliamentary balloting marked only the second time in Pakistan's 71-year history that a civilian government has handed power to another in the country of 200 million people. Khan's party has ruled the province for the last five years.

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