Results which have continued to come in through late Friday, some 12 hours after polling for national and provincial assemblies ended Thursday, show PTI-affiliated candidates doing better than previously expected in a national ‘shocker’. Ex-PM Imran Khan’s party is indeed raising eyebrows and is ‘overperforming’ – as one Washington Post headline has put it.
This despite Khan’s PTI having been forced by a prior legal ruling to run candidates on independent platforms in what his supporters say is a move by the military and its political allies to ensure Khan, who is in prison on dozens of corruption charges, can never rise to power again. The PTI has surged ahead for seats in parliament against recent Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Muslim League.
“With results from just 24 seats of 266-member National Assembly now outstanding, political maneuvering begins to form the next government,” Al Jazeera reports of the latest figures to come in. “At least 134 seats are needed for a simple majority.”
“PTI-backed candidates have won 98 seats while Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN), has secured 67.”
Still there are contradictory declarations of ‘victory’ happening…
In a speech earlier on Friday, Sharif claimed victory and invited allies.
Hours later, Imran Khan released an AI-generated “victory speech” video from jail, calling Sharif a “petty man” and saying no Pakistani would accept his claim of victory.
Sharif still said as the public has been described as “stunned” (or rather in reality the military establishment is stunned) at Khan’s party surge that he would seek a broad coalition government. “Since we don’t have a clear majority, we will reach out to steer the country out of the quagmire it is in,” he announced.
“I don’t want to fight with those who are in the mood for fighting,” he said before supporters in Lahore. “We will have to sit together to settle all matters.”
Former PM Khan’s AI-generated ‘victory speech’ issued from jail…
Chairman Imran Khan’s victory speech (AI version) after an unprecedented fightback from the nation that resulted in PTI’s landslide victory in General Elections 2024. pic.twitter.com/Z6GiLwCVCR
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) February 9, 2024
Sharif was viewed going into the election as the clear front-runner. He’s seen as the “military’s man” in Islamabad, while Khan’s legacy has sought to be erased by those same elite powers.
Sharif’s political ‘reaching out’ is unlikely to include former Khan officials and his PTI, but likely some who ran as independents will have to be dealt with cooperatively.
#PAKWatch🇵🇰: Even though it appears that Imran Khan and the PTI party had a runaway electoral victory, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is working overtime to rig the results and remove Captain Pakistan from the picture. pic.twitter.com/LMd3POYbno
— Steve Hanke (@steve_hanke) February 9, 2024
The Washington Post underscores that what this shows is the Pakistani countryside continues to have large bastions of PTI and pro-Khan support: “But the provisional results of Thursday’s vote still pointed to lingering support for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI, which was politically sidelined by the Pakistani establishment after Khan ran afoul of the military two years ago,” it writes.
The contest is fundamentally between Nawaz Sharif, Imran Khan and Bilawal Bhutto’s parties. Already there are widespread accusations of “fraud” and political violence on the streets could persist.
As we detailed yesterday, the hotly contested election has been marred by political violence and acts of terrorism of the past several days, which has even included bombings at polling stations and attacks on political offices. 48 hours of violence going into Thursday’s voting saw over 35 people killed and scores wounded.