Pakistan's Imran Khan Leads In National Elections, As Rivals Allege Rigging

Pakistan's Imran Khan Leads In National Elections, As Rivals Allege Rigging

Pakistan's Imran Khan Leads In National Elections, As Rivals Allege Rigging

Cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan has declared victory for his party in Pakistan's historic elections, promising a "new" Pakistan.

"The new government is going to be in an unenviable position, and especially Imran Khan, as he is not the preferred prime minister for Pakistan's two traditional chief patrons, China and the U.S.", he said.

Up to 800,000 police and military forces have been stationed at more than 85,000 polling stations across the country, with concerns for security after a string of bloody militant attacks in the final weeks of the campaign that have killed more than 180 people, including three candidates.

A woman votes next to a soldier at a polling station during the general election in Karachi on Wednesday.

A social activist Marriyum Bibi, expressing her dismay over the situation, said, "It will deprive the women voters of their basic right to cast votes as 310 combined polling stations are unlikely to see more female voters due to social taboos".

Sharif, who was immediately placed in custody after returning from Britain almost two weeks ago, has denounced the verdict as politically motivated and accused a covert military-judiciary alliance of trying to keep him out of politics and undermining the integrity of his PML-N party. "The delay is being caused because the result transmission system has collapsed", Yaqoob said.

Khan's camp was increasingly confident of winning the election, although it still appeared likely to fall short of the 137 seats needed for a majority in the National Assembly, raising the prospect it would need to find coalition partners among smaller parties and independents.

Khan is scheduled to speak at 4 p.m. local time Thursday, when he is expected to declare victory.

Political parties including Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P), Pak Sarzameen Party (PSP), Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had earlier alleged that polling agents were being chased out of polling booths.

Nawaz Sharif, who has been sentenced to 10 years in jail in a corruption case by the country's top court, has already been disqualified for life and remains barred from holding any public office, including his party's leadership. PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif were trailing behind their opponents in Malakand and Swat National Assembly constituencies.

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The five-party religious alliance, Muttehida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) has failed to make its presence felt, even in its stronghold northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP) and southwestern Balochistan provinces, and is leading only on 12 seats.

Holding up the example of closest ally China, he said the country has managed to drag enormous numbers of people out of poverty over the last 30 years.

"It is a sheer rigging".

Ex-chief minister Pervez Khattak, who won the NA-25 (Nowshera) seat, was also leading in two provincial assembly constituencies in his native Nowshera.

Addressing a news conference in northeastern Lahore city on Wednesday night, Shehbaz said his party "wholly" rejected the results.

However at the time of his speech there was no official confirmation of results from the election commission nearly 24 hours after polls closed in Wednesday's vote.

"PML-N and PPP were running under constraints and PTI was operating with complete freedom and establishment backing".

Khan, who captained Pakistan to their World Cup cricket victory in 1992, vowed during the campaign to tackle widespread graft while building an "Islamic welfare state".

Khan's party spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, showed confidence as the early projections were broadcast, saying in a tweet "Congratulations to the nation on a new Pakistan!"

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