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HomeWorldVote counting ends in Pakistan, Imran Khan supporters clash with forces

Vote counting ends in Pakistan, Imran Khan supporters clash with forces

Police previously warned they would crack down on illegal gatherings.


Police fired tear gas to disperse supporters of jailed former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday after his party called for protests outside election offices, where they said rigging had occurred in the week’s national vote. pass.

Clashes were reported in the city of Rawalpindi, south of the capital, and in Lahore, in the east, while dozens of other protests took place across the country without incident.

Police previously warned they would crack down on illegal gatherings. There were no immediate reports of injuries from the protests.

Independent candidates, most linked to Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, won the most seats in the polls, ruining the chances of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-backed by the army, will win a ruling. most.

However, independents are unable to form a government and the country faces weeks of political uncertainty as rival parties negotiate potential coalitions.

PTI leaders claim they would have won even more seats if not for vote rigging.

A nationwide mobile phone blackout on election day and slow counting of results raised suspicions that the military establishment was influencing the process to ensure the success of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N.

“Across Pakistan, elections were subtly rigged,” PTI Chairman Gohar Ali Khan said at a news conference on Saturday, calling on his supporters to “peacefully protest” on Sunday.

Authorities warned they would take strict action, saying so-called Section 144 orders, a colonial-era law banning public gatherings, were in place.

“Some individuals are inciting illegal gatherings around the Election Commission and other government offices,” an Islamabad police statement said on Sunday.

“Legal action will be taken against illegal gatherings. It should be noted that soliciting gatherings is also a crime,” he said.

A similar warning was also issued in Rawalpindi, as dozens of police in riot gear gathered near Liberty Market in Lahore.

In Rawalpindi, AFP staff saw police fire tear gas into a crowd of dozens of PTI supporters after they refused an order to stop demonstrating at an office used to collect election results.

Another gathering of about 200 PTI supporters in Lahore quickly dispersed when police moved in with riot shields and batons.

Local media said several people were detained in Karachi, in the south, when they refused orders to clear the area.

Uncertain future

Imran Khan’s party defied a months-long crackdown, which paralyzed campaigning and forced candidates to run as independents, to emerge as the winners of Thursday’s vote.

The final results were announced on Sunday, with independents winning 101 seats, the PML-N 75, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) 54 and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) 17.

Ten minor parties captured the remaining 17 seats, leaving two vacant.

“The results have clearly indicated that no party possesses a simple majority to establish a government,” said Zahid Hussain, political analyst and author.

“The political future of the country from now on is very uncertain.”

Still, PTI leaders insist they have been given a “people’s mandate” to form the next government.

“The people have decided in favor of Imran Khan,” party president Gohar Ali Khan told Arab News in an interview.

A coalition between the PML-N and the PPP, which formed the last government after ousting Imran Khan with a no-confidence vote in April 2022, still looks the most likely outcome.

Pakistan’s military chief on Saturday called on feuding politicians to show “maturity and unity.”

“The nation needs steady hands and a healing touch to overcome the politics of anarchy and polarization that does not suit a progressive country of 250 million people,” Gen. Syed Asim Munir said in a statement.

The army looms large in Pakistan’s political landscape, and generals have ruled the country for almost half of its history since the partition of India in 1947.

The military-backed PML-N, founded by three-time Prime Minister Sharif, declared victory as the party with the largest number of seats, but to form a government it will be forced to make deals with rivals and independents.

Imran Khan was banned from taking part in the election after receiving several long prison sentences in the days leading up to the vote.

He was found guilty this month of treason, corruption and un-Islamic marriage in three separate trials among nearly 200 cases brought against him since he was overthrown.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated channel.)

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