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Pakistan: Imran Khan's PTI to sit in opposition in Centre and Punjab, claims 'biggest voter fraud'

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf claimed that it won at least 180 seats, of which 85 were taken away, and said February 8 will be remembered as the "biggest voter fraud" in Pakistan's history. Meanwhile, Pakistan's Supreme Court will hear a petition on Monday seeking to declare the polls null and void.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: February 16, 2024 23:46 IST
Pakistan, Imran Khan, PTI, Opposition
Image Source : PTI Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf protest against alleged rigging in elections

Islamabad: Incarcerated former Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Friday announced that it will set in the opposition benches of the National Assembly and the Punjab provincial assembly, while maintaining its claims of 'voter fraud' and rigging in the February 8 elections. The decision was announced by PTI leader Barrister Ali Saif under the directives of Imran Khan, Dawn reported.

“We decided to sit in opposition despite the reality that if we received seats according to our votes and the results were not changed then maybe today we might have been in the Centre with 180 seats. Form 45 is the evidence that our candidates won,” he said in Islamabad. It was not clear if the party would participate in the election of the prime minister and Punjab chief minister after the decision to join the opposition ranks.

The party announced "peaceful protests" on Saturday against alleged rigging in the elections and has appealed to other political parties to join the agitation. The candidates backed by PTI won the maximum number of National Assembly seats in last week's elections, but could not form a government by themselves as the PTI was stripped of their electoral symbol and barred from contesting the elections.

The PTI announced its secretary general and former federal Omar Ayub Khan as the PM candidate on Thursday. The party earlier said it would ally with the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) in the Centre and Punjab. PTI said it would form a coalition government with the Jamaat-i-Islami in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but the latter refused to hold talks.

Omar said his first priority would be to free all political prisoners including Imran Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi and other PTI workers, if he is elected. "PTI will contest and inshallah win the PM election in the National Assembly as we have won with 180 seats in the General Elections 2024," he said. 

Pakistan SC to hear case to declare elections null and void

Meanwhile, Pakistan's Supreme Court will hear a petition on Monday seeking to declare the recently held general elections null and void, amidst allegations by several parties of poll rigging and deliberate delay in announcing the results. The petition was filed by a citizen named Ali Khan and sought to declare the results of the February 8 polls null and void and get elections re-conducted within 30 days under the supervision and oversight of the judiciary, according to Express Tribune.

The petitioner named the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and the federal government as respondents in the case. The petition also seeks a stay order on the formation of the new government till the case is resolved. The Sindh High Court (SHC) directed that the electoral watchdog hear the complaints of all the parties and take a decision accordingly before February 22 as per the law.

Following the Pakistan general elections, widespread protests have been held in Balochistan, Sindh and other parts of the country against alleged rigging in the 2024 general elections. Political parties, including the National Party, PPP, JUI, BAP, BNP-Mengal, PkMAP, and PkNAP, staged protest demonstrations engulfing major thoroughfares and district returning offices, demanding recounts and challenging the declared outcomes in Balochistan.

Feb 8 to be remembered for 'biggest voter fraud': PTI

The PTI claimed that at least 85 seats won by it in Parliament were snatched in the "biggest voter fraud" in the country's history. PTI Central Information Secretary Raoof Hasan on Friday said the February 8 general elections would be remembered due to the “biggest voter fraud” in Pakistan’s history.

“According to our estimates, only 92 [National Assembly seats] have been given to us out of 177 seats which were supposed to be ours. And 85 seats have been taken away from us fraudulently,” Hasan said, adding that the party was taking constitutional and legal steps in this regard. “We have verified data about 46 seats and it is being compiled for 39 seats," he added.

Independent candidates - a majority backed by Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) - won 93 of the 265 National Assembly seats that were contested in the February 8 election. However, PTI's two main rivals appear on course to form a coalition government after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) formed a post-poll alliance on Tuesday.

The PML-N won 75 seats while the PPP came third with 54 seats. The Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) has also agreed to support them with their 17 seats. 

Meanwhile, PTI announced its secretary general and former federal Omar Ayub Khan as the PM candidate on Thursday. The party earlier said it would ally with the Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) in the Centre and Punjab. PTI said it would form a coalition government with the Jamaat-i-Islami in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but the latter refused to hold talks, causing the Imran-led party to appeal to Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the PTI is in a position to form its government as independents backed by the party won 84 seats in the general elections.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | 'Deeply disturbed': White House says ‘closely watching’ Pakistan election results amid delay in PM declaration

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