Politics

Pakistan Election Results Contested Amid Accusations Of Rigging

Pakistan Election Results
By Postyourviews (Photography of event) [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons
Wednesday night voters around the South Asian country awaited the Pakistan election results only to learn the announcement would be delayed due to technical difficulties. While Pakistanis patiently waited to learn who would become their next Prime Minister, officials announced the Result Transmission System (RTS) had crashed and the final vote could not be announced until the system was fixed.

The RTS, which was developed by the National Database and Registration (NADRA,) allegedly crashed due to overuse when thousands of polling stations began to use it concurrently. Election Commission of Pakistan has blamed the software for the election day hiccup.

Through the software, election officials were able to register the voting results from their station via an app downloaded on their smartphones. Tech experts had predicted there would be issues with the software ahead of the election because many of the polling stations were in very remote areas with limited GPS service. Additionally, plenty of the election officials did not own a smartphone or had never used one before.

Pakistan Election Results: Who Has Been Declared the Winner?

As Pakistan election results continued to trickle in on Thursday, Imran Khan’s PTI party was tentatively declared the winners of the election by most local news outlets. However, rumors immediately began to circulate that incumbent PML-N would form a coalition with PPP in order to remain in power.

The Election Commission of Pakistan announced that 90% of votes have been announced in the field. The Commission has so far received 82%. Final outcomes should be announced within 24 hours. They will also share figures on voter turnout, which they have called, “impressive.”

PTI Celebrates Pakistan Election Results

Although the results are still contested and PTI does not appear to have cinched the 136 seat majority needed, Imran Khan has already given a victory speech, while supporters continue to celebrate in Islamabad.

In his speech, the former cricket superstar and notable philanthropist said he aims to create stronger ties with China, as well as India. Khan pointed to the crisis in Kashmir as the keystone to India-Pak tensions and said the “blame game can’t continue forever.”

He also said that business must be made a priority in Pakistan, “We have to lower cost of doing business, raise ease of doing business. We have to create opportunities for investment.”

The centrist leader also touched on the welfare state he plans to set up, “We plan to set up a Medina-like welfare state in Pakistan, like governance system at the time of the Prophet.”

Incumbent Rejects Pakistan Election Results

PML-N has now announced that they will reject the results of the election amid allegations that the military interfered to bring Khan to power. PML-N and now imprisoned party leader Nawaz Sharif have clashed with Pakistan’s military for decades allegedly due to their policy of creating more peaceful ties with India. Sharif has also leveled the accusation that Pakistan’s intelligence service, ISI, pressured PML-N candidates to leave the party, while curbing positive coverage in the news.

Nawaz Sharif was removed from power last year while serving as the nation’s prime minister. He was later convicted on corruption charges and has been serving out his 10 year sentence since July 13. Voices within Pakistan and the international community have called Sharif’s conviction “legally dubious.” PML-N has claimed the military orchestrated Sharif’s conviction and arrest due to Sharif’s effort to curb the power of the military while he held power.

These allegations aren’t entirely without basis. In 1999, Sharif clashed with powerful military leaders leading to a military coup which deposed Sharif from power and forced him to flee the country with his family.

In this year’s election, Sharif’s younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, ran for prime minister in his place. The younger Sharif has already given a speech saying PML-N “wholly rejects” the election results. He claims his party’s polling agents were removed from dozens of polling stations by security officials. As such, PML-N was unable to monitor polling efforts for election tampering in many important constituencies.

“The mandate of millions of people who came out to vote has been humiliated. Our democratic process has been pushed back by decades,” the younger Sharif said. PML-N senator Musadik Malik, told journalists that security officials took control of the voting in constituencies where the voting was close between PTI and PML-N.

Leaders from other parties have echoed Sharif’s allegations. Bilawal Bhutto, leader of the left-wing PPP tweeted, “It’s now past midnight & I haven’t received official results from any constituency I am contesting my myself. My candidates complaining polling agents have been thrown out of polling stations across the country. Inexcusable & outrageous.”

A spokesperson for the far-right Islamist group, Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP), said, “This is the worst rigging in history.”

Many PTI leaders have rejected these accusations saying they were coming only from those who are sympathetic towards India.

Election Terror Attacks

In the weeks leading up to the election, a terror attack in Balochistan killed 151 people, leading many to fear for their lives when heading to the polls on Wednesdays. These fears were confirmed by a number of violent attacks in Balochistan. In Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, a suicide attack left 31 dead, dozens more injured, and hundreds afraid to leave their homes and head to the polls. ISIS later claimed the attack. Local journalists have questioned whether the low voter turnout in Balochistan could have impacted the election.