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Imran Khan’s party gains comfortable lead in Pakistan election, but will need coalition to form govt

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan declared his victory on Thursday and dismissed the allegations of fraud calling it the most transparent election in Pakistan’s history.

world Updated: Jul 27, 2018 18:47 IST
Imran Khan,Pakistan election,Imran Khan wins Pakistan election
Cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), speaks to members of media after casting his vote at a polling station during the general election in Islamabad, Pakistan, July 25, 2018. (Reuters)

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan remained comfortably ahead in Pakistan elections, but will need a coalition to form the government. His party bagged 109 seats, 28 short of majority mark 137 in 269 seats in Pakistan assembly, media reports said. Results from 20 seats were still being counted.

After a tediously slow count, Pakistan election officials on Friday morning announced that Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won 109 of the 269 seats being contested in the National Assembly, according to the Associated Press.

The election on Wednesday gave his nearest rival, Shahbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PLM-N) 63 seats. Third place went to Bilwal Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) with 39 seats.

Shahbaz Sharif who heads the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif has rejected the results, alleging widespread fraud and manipulation. The results are “tainted and dubious” and would cast a “bad impact” on the country’s politics, Nawaz Sharif reportedly said.

Imran Khan declared his victory on Thursday and dismissed the allegations of fraud calling it the most transparent election in Pakistan’s history. He pledged to match every step India takes towards Pakistan with two, in his first speech after declaring victory.

“We want to improve our relations with India, if their leadership also wants it. This blame game that whatever goes wrong in Pakistan is because of India and vice-versa brings us back to square one,” the 65-year-old said on Thursday, adding that he had been “treated by the Indian media like a Bollywood villain”.

As he made peace overtures to India, Imran Khan singled out the Kashmir issue as the biggest hurdle in relations between the subcontinental neighbours. “The biggest problem is Kashmir, every international organisation has said that there are human rights violations taking place in Kashmir,” he said.

On other foreign policy matters, Khan called for mutually beneficial and not one-sided relations with the US. He said his administration would strengthen relations with China, noting Beijing’s investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and spoke of an open border with Afghanistan. He also said he wanted stronger ties with Iran and to help Saudi Arabia resolve its “inner tensions”.

The next government will need to compete for influence over foreign policy with the military, which has ruled for much of the nation’s history and faced accusations of meddling in the campaign — allegations it denied. Khan has for long criticised the US for drone strikes in Pakistan, taken a hard line against India and expressed support for China’s $60 billion infrastructure programme.

First Published: Jul 27, 2018 10:38 IST