Most polls in the weeks leading up the the Pakistan election showed Imran Khan’s PTI party coming out on top with a slight lead, but no absolute majority in parliament. The latest count in Pakistan shows PTI leading with 99 seats. Reports indicate that Imran Khan’s security has been increased in anticipation of the former cricket star and philanthropist becoming Pakistan’s next prime minister. While local sources have been quick to point to a PTI victory, international experts have warned that not enough votes have been counted to already declare Pakistan election results 2018.
Incumbent party PML-N, led by the Sharif political dynasty, trails behind PTI with 54 seats so far. PPP comes in third with 31 seats. Both PPP and PML-N requested an hour long extension before polling booths were set to close at 6pm local time. Their requests were denied.
While Khan has so far maintained his lead, all votes have not yet been counted in Punjab. Punjab is not only Pakistan’s most populous province, it is also the heartland of the PML-N. The Punjabi votes may swing the Pakistan election results 2018.
If neither PTI or PML-N is able to secure a majority in parliament, they will have to form a coalition government to secure their rule. Analysts predict that it will fall to PPP and young party leader, Bilawal Bhutto, to play kingmaker.
Election Day Terror Attacks
The Guardian reports at least nine terror attacks occured today in Balochistan province, leaving 40 dead and 60 injured. Because of the terror attacks, voter turnout in certain areas was low. One local journalist explained:
“The entire election day was spent amidst the deadly sounds of blasts, rockets and hand grenades. There was no peace and I could see helicopters flying over my head and on the news, Baloch insurgents ambushing security forces and throwing hand grenades on various polling stations. There were clashes between the security forces and the insurgents – Balochistan has become a battleground …
“The voter turnout in Makran division, which shares a border with Iran and is the epicentre of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, was low. In the main cities of the division people came out to vote, but in rural areas such as border towns people were confined to their homes. Less turnout would be favourable for the candidates that the military establishment is supporting, because wherever the turnout is low and people don’t vote then it’s easy to manipulate the result.”
The terror attacks prompted the military to deploy 400,000 soldiers to polling stations, which has led to allegations of military interference from party leaders. The PML-N party, various political leaders, human rights organizations, and Reham Khan, Imran Khan’s ex wife, have accused Khan of conspiring with Pakistan’s military establishment to win the election. Meanwhile, Khan’s campaign has focused heavily on pointing out the failed promises of the other two major parties, while leveraging Nawaz Sharif’s recent arrest on corruption charges.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has already registered more than 600 complaints in regards to today’s election.