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Imran Khan leads in Pakistan election, Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party alleges ‘outright rigging’, EC rejects charge

The controversy follows a bitter campaign season marred by allegations of interference from the country’s powerful military, with former cricket star Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) accused of being the beneficiary

world Updated: Jul 26, 2018 12:19 IST
Agencies
Agencies
Islamabad
Pakistan Election 2018 Live,Pakistan Polls Live,live Voting in pakistan 2018
Supporters of Imran Khan, head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), also known as Movement for Justice, hold signs while celebrating on a street in Lahore, Pakistan, on Wednesday, July 25, 2018. Pakistan's Imran Khan took an early lead in a tightly-fought election.(Bloomberg)

Pakistan’s top election official batted away allegations of ballot-rigging Thursday, defending an ongoing delay in the formal vote count as a technical issue.

The incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party flat out rejected the pending results of Wednesday’s election, citing “outright rigging” and accusing officials of preventing its representatives from overseeing the count.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) denied the claims in an unusual conference at 4am on Thursday, saying a new electronic results system suffered unexpected glitches.

Despite the technical issues, “these elections were 100 percent fair and transparent”, said Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza on Thursday, in his first comments after polls closed.

Raza did not say when election authorities would be in a position to announce the results.

The comments reflected similar remarks by the ECP’s secretary hours earlier.

Sharif warned his party would launch protests against the alleged rigging. He did not say who he believes could have rigged the polls, but allegations of manipulating the elections have been made against the country’s powerful military.

“Some five other parties including PPP have raised the rigging issue in polls. After consulting them, I will announce the future course of action. Pakistan has suffered today,” he told journalists at the press conference in Lahore.

“We will fight this injustice and use all options,” he said, adding that there has been a “blatant violation” of the mandate.

As election workers poured over mounds of paper ballots, other major parties – including the Pakistan Peoples Party – joined the fray, alleging the count was being manipulated.

The controversy follows a bitter campaign season marred by allegations of interference from the country’s powerful military, with former cricket star Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) accused of being the beneficiary.

The election was largely seen as a head-to-head clash between the PTI and the PML-N, with election analysts saying the contest was still too close to call.

The PML-N claims it has been the target of the alleged military machinations. Its former leader Nawaz was ousted from power last year and jailed over a corruption conviction days before the vote, removing Khan’s most dangerous rival.

The military denies the allegations.

First Published: Jul 26, 2018 07:31 IST