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OPINION: SUSPENSE IN PAKISTAN, BUT ARMY WILL BE THE ULTIMATE ARBITER

The counting began on Thursday evening at a snail’s pace after polling was over at 5 pm. Pakistan Election Commission data show Independents backed by PTI as leading, with PML-N and PPP following closely.

Written By: Rajat Sharma @RajatSharmaLive New Delhi Published on: February 09, 2024 16:52 IST
Pakistan, Pakistan Election Results, Aaj Ki Baat, Rajat Sharma blog
Image Source : INDIA TV India TV Chairman and Editor-in-chief Rajat Sharma.

Pakistan is facing a tense situation with conflicting claims being made by Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif camps. The suspense is still on over which party will finally emerge as the single largest in the National Assembly elections. There were allegations by PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf) leaders that the counting is being deliberately slowed down to facilitate rigging in order to declare anti-Imran candidates as winners. On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif’s daughter Maryam Nawaz, chief organiser of the party, claimed that her father would deliver a “victory speech”. She claimed that PML-N is emerging as the single largest party both in the National Assembly and in the Punjab Provincial Assembly. On social media X, Maryam wrote: ‘As opposed to the false perception deliberately being built by a section of media last night, PML-N, Alhamdulillah (By the Grace of Allah), is emerging as the single largest party in the Centre and Punjab”.

PTI leader Lateef Khosa claimed that his party would form the government without entering into any coalition, and “Nawaz Sharif will have to go back (to London).” Another senior PTI leader Barrister Gohar Ali Khan claimed that his party was leading on 150 seats and would definitely get the required number of seats to form a government. There are dozens of parties in the fray, but the three main contenders are Imran Khan’s PTI (whose candidates are running as independents), Nawaz Sharif’s PML(N) and Bilawal Zardari Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party. 169 seats are required to reach the magic mark in a House of 336, which includes reserved seats for women and minorities.

The counting began on Thursday evening at a snail’s pace after polling was over at 5 pm. Pakistan Election Commission data show Independents backed by PTI as leading, with PML-N and PPP following closely. Nawaz Sharif won by a big margin. He got 1,71,024 votes against PTI-backed independent Dr Yasmin Rashid who got 1,15,043 votes. All four Sharif family members, including Nawaz’s brother Shehbaz Sharif, Shehbaz’s son Hamza Shehbaz and Nawaz’s daughter Maryam, scored victories. In provincial assemblies, ECP data showed the PPP leading in Sindh Assembly, while PML-N and Imran-backed independents were in a neck-and-neck contest in Punjab.

PTI leaders alleged that the results are being deliberately delayed to rig the outcome. It said, “…manipulation of results in the late hours of night is an utter disgrace and a brazen theft of nation’s mandate. The people of Pakistan vehemently reject the rigged results. The world is watching….Let the world know that the clear and overwhelming mandate of the people of Pakistan is being stolen….Returning Officers are now manipulating the results..” PTI leaders alleged that their candidates are “losing suddenly in various constituencies after they had already won by a clear majority”.

On Thursday, when the polling was on, people inside and outside Pakistan knew what the outcome would be. Nawaz Sharif’s party was the favourite, as it was being backed by the Army. If PML-N gets full majority in the National Assembly, Nawaz Sharif will become the Prime Minister, and if his party requires support from Bhutto, then Shehbaz Sharif will again become the PM. People on the streets of Pakistan say, that whosoever might become the PM, the fact is that the country and government will continue to be run by the Army. It was the Army which had first backed Nawaz Sharif, then removed him and he had to spend the last 12 years outside his country. Later he built bridges with the Army, his cases were withdrawn, and he returned to Pakistan and contested elections. Similarly, it was the Army which earlier backed Imran Khan, but he made two big mistakes – he locked horns with the Army, and he openly started opposing the US. The result was that he was thrown into Adiala jail, after he lost power. There are lesser chances of Imran Khan coming out of prison. It was Imran Khan, who had thrown Nawaz Sharif in jail, and if Nawaz becomes the Prime Minister again, he will ensure that Imran spends the rest of his life in jail.

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