Although official results in Pakistan's July 25 election have not yet been made public as of Friday, July 27, preliminary results indicate a victory for Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. Khan declared victory in a speech on Thursday, July 26, promising to investigate election fraud and unite Pakistan under his administration. Early results show PTI leading in 115 of the 272 constituencies in an election that had turnout near 55 percent. Ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leads in 62 constituencies and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, leads in 43 constituencies. A party is required to secure 137 constituencies to form a majority government.
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. Following a meeting of political opposition parties on Friday, the leader of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) party declared his party would launch protests to demand new elections. It was not immediately clear whether the PML-N and PPP would accept the election results or join in the call for new elections. There is a strong possibility of protests and related violence in the coming days and weeks, particularly when the official election results are released. Heightened security measures and localized traffic disruptions are to be expected near protest sites.
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, 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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