Pakistan election: Imran Khan claims victory | News | DW | 26.07.2018
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Pakistan election: Imran Khan claims victory

The former cricket star and opposition stalwart Imran Khan has declared victory in Pakistan's tense election. A slow vote count had sparked accusations of ballot rigging by rivals.

Watch video 00:17

Khan vows to run Pakistan 'like never before'

"We were successful, and we were given a mandate," Imran Khan said in a televised address on Thursday, claiming victory for himself and his PTI party in Pakistan's national election.

Khan also used his acceptance speech to declare that India and Pakistan had to come to an agreement for lasting peace in the Kashmir border region.

"The leaders of Pakistan and India should sit down at a table and resolve the Kashmir issue," he said. Khan also announced plans to bolster the country's welfare system.

His party is expected to win up to 119 seats of the 272 up for grabs in the 342-seat parliament. Khan would likely face a difficult path to forming a coalition with rival parties opposed to his victory.

Read more: Opinion: Imran Khan's dangerous victory

Controversial vote count:

  •  The latest results give Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Movement for Justice) party a lead over the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), which is currently headed by Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of jailed ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
  • Election officials said a technical glitch in the electronic reporting system has delayed the results, with staff now counting ballots by hand. The Election Commission of Pakistan ruled out any "conspiracy" in the delay.
  • The slow vote tally has led to fears about the legitimacy of the vote and prompted many political parties to cry foul. PML-N rejected the count as "blatantly" rigged.
  • Final results are expected in the evening on Thursday, although officials did not name a specific time.
Pakistani politician Imran Khan (picture-alliance/AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)

The army is accused of backing PTI leader and former cricket star Imran Khan

'We need someone who isn't corrupt'

Before official results arrived, PTI and Khan supporters took to the streets to celebrate the initial results on Wednesday night.

Supporters had remained hopeful on Thursday as the electoral commission continued to count ballots after technical issues with new software.

"I came back from America just for the elections," Sadiq Kakakhel told DW's Naomi Conrad in Islamabad. He said he voted for Khan "because we need someone who isn't corrupt, who can fix things."

"The biggest issue in Pakistan is corruption. That's why I support Khan," Muhamed Atif told DW as he was driving to Khan's house. Several supporters were gathering at a roadblock on the way to his home. 

A 'new' Pakistan: Khan ran on a platform pledging to tackle corruption, promising an "Islamic welfare state," and a populist pledge to topple Pakistan's political elite. The campaign resonated with younger voters in a nation where 64 percent of the 200 million people are under 30 years old.

Accusations of military interference: The election was dogged by accusations that Pakistan's powerful military was manipulating the election. The military, which has ruled Pakistan for roughly half of its 71-year history, allegedly backed Khan and the PTI. Military spokesman General Asif Ghafoor called accusations of interference "malicious propaganda" in a tweet that included pictures of voters kissing and thanking soldiers at polling stations.

"It's such a blatant rigging that everyone has started crying," Shahbaz Sharif told reporters in Lahore. "Today what they have done has pushed Pakistan back 30 years. ... We reject this result."

PML-N Senator Asif Kirmani told DW that "these elctions are the worst bogus elections," and implied that if other political parties were to agree, the PML-N may try to mobilize the masses against the results.

Violent campaign: The lead-up to the vote saw repeated violence and threats from militant groups, as well as attacks on election day. A suicide bomber targeted a crowding polling station in the southwestern city of Quetta, killing 31 people. The military deployed about 350,000 troops to secure the country's 85,000 polling stations.

Thousands vying for office: More than 11,000 candidates were in the running for the 272 seats up for grabs in Pakistan's National Assembly and the 577 seats in four provincial assemblies. The winning party will face several issues, including a crumbling economy and violence from militants.

Naomi Conrad contributed reporting.

rs,es/rt (AP, AFP, dpa)

Watch video 03:32

Pakistan military accused of interfering ahead of vote

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