The release of election results has been delayed on Thursday, July 26, as officials continue to tally votes. As of 08:00 (local) time, election officials had counted 42 percent of the total vote. Early results show Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party leading in 113 of the 272 constituencies. Ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leads in 66 constituencies and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, leads in 39 constituencies. A party is required to secure 137 constituencies to win. Election officials insist the delay in counting and releasing the results is due to technical errors that forced votes to be tallied manually. Sharif rejected the preliminary tallies as "blatantly rigged" and alleged vote-rigging and manipulation. The PPP has also complained that their election observers were asked to leave during vote counting.
Given the controversy surrounding the vote and statements by party leaders, there is a possibility of protests, and related violence, once the results are announced.
The election marks the second time in Pakistan's history of a transfer of power from one civilian government to another. The campaign season has witnessed violence, as election-related gatherings have been targeted repeatedly by militants resulting in hundreds of deaths, including at least 31 people killed in a suicide attack on a polling station in Quetta on election day, Wednesday, July 25. Additionally, some candidates have accused the security establishment of threatening party members and choosing sides in the election.
Nawaz Sharif won the previous election but was removed from office in July 2017 and jailed for corruption. Sharif's brother, Shehbaz Sharif, is running in his stead. Imran Khan, a former cricket star, founded the PTI in 1996 and has been building up support over the past two decades, gaining momentum with Sharif's corruption scandal. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari leads the PPP, which is expected to come in third. He is the son of assassinated PM Benazir Bhutto and former President Asif Ali Zardari.
Individuals in Pakistan are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all demonstrations and protests, remain vigilant for militant activity and signs of civil unrest, and adhere to instructions by local authorities.
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