Tuesday, March 5, 2024
Tuesday, March 5, 2024
HomeWorldRival parties claim advantage in Pakistan election - BBC News

Rival parties claim advantage in Pakistan election – BBC News

Image source, Imran Khan/X


Imran Khan posted AI-generated speech claiming victory in X

Now that most of Pakistan’s general election results have been announced, no political force has a clear majority.

Jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan claims victory in Thursday’s elections as independent candidates linked to him have won the majority of seats so far.

But another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, says his party has become the largest and urges others to join him in a coalition.

There are reports that coalition talks are already underway between Sharif’s PML-N party and other groups.

The final official results have not yet been announced.

In a firm video message posted on which was generated using AI, a message credited to Khan said his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party had won a landslide victory, defying what he called a crackdown on his party.

“I congratulate each and every one of you for winning the 2024 elections… you have made history,” the message said.

Khan is currently in prison after being convicted in cases he claims are politically motivated.

The success of the PTI-linked candidates was unexpected, with most experts agreeing that Sharif, believed to be backed by the country’s powerful military, was the clear favorite.

But the PTI is not a recognized party after it was banned from running in elections, so technically Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), or PML-N, is the largest official political group.

The political haggling has begun in earnest, meaning it could still be a while before anyone can claim outright victory.

In a speech on Friday, Sharif acknowledged that he did not have the numbers to form a government alone. But addressing his supporters outside his party headquarters in the city of Lahore, he urged other candidates to join him in a coalition and said it could lead the country out of difficult times.

Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight program on Friday, Khan’s former special assistant Zulifkar Bukhari said: “Knowing Imran Khan and knowing the ethos of our political party PTI, I don’t think we will form any coalition, nor form a government with none of the main parties.

“However, we will form a coalition… to be in parliament, not as independents but under one banner, one party.”

And when asked if Khan could be freed, Bukhari said: “I think by the time we go to the high court and the supreme court, we will be extremely confident that he will be freed, and many of the charges, if not all, – “will be dismissed on legal merit and procedural merit.”

The third largest party appears to be the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), led by Bilawal Bhutto, son of Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assassinated in 2007.

Image source, EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock


In Lahore, supporters of Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) party could hear an eruption of cheers and fireworks.

Burzine Waghmar, a fellow at the Center for the Study of Pakistan at SOAS University of London, told the BBC that the election “may well prove one of the most divisive and dangerous this episodic and chronically unstable democracy has ever faced.”

As the results became known, the United Kingdom and the United States expressed concern about restrictions on electoral freedoms during the vote.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said the UK urged Pakistani authorities “to uphold fundamental human rights, including free access to information and the rule of law.”

In a statement, he went on to express “his regret that not all parties were formally allowed to participate in the elections.”

Meanwhile, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller criticized what he described as “undue restrictions on the freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly” during Pakistan’s electoral process.

He also cited “attacks on media workers” and “restrictions on access to the Internet and telecommunications services” as reasons for concern about “allegations of interference” in the process.

Many analysts have said that this is one of Pakistan’s least credible elections.

Voters in Lahore told the BBC that the internet blackout on election day meant it was not possible to book taxis to vote, while others said they could not coordinate when to go to polling stations with their families.

A Home Office spokesman said the blackouts were necessary for security reasons.

The army’s support in Pakistan is seen as important for political success, and analysts believe Sharif and his party currently have its backing, despite their past differences.

Maya Tudor, associate professor at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, said the initiative taken by Imran Khan’s PTI was “shocking” in the context of the country’s past.

“A victory would be remarkable: in every other election in Pakistan’s recent history, the military’s preferred candidate has won,” Dr. Tudor explained.

Up to 128 million people were registered to cast their vote, almost half of whom were under 35 years old. More than 5,000 candidates – of which only 313 are women – contested 266 directly elected seats in the 336-member National Assembly.

Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, Maleeha Lodhi, said Pakistan “desperately” needs political stability to address what she described as “the worst economic crisis in its history.”

But, sounding hopeful, Lodhi said Pakistan’s voter numbers show a “belief in the democratic process.”

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