Pakistan: Imran Khan's PTI-backed independents surge, win 22 seats in National Assembly

Broadcaster Geo News projected Imran Khan's candidates won 47 of 106 seats

PAKISTAN-POLITICS-VOTE A boy walks past a car with a portrait of Pakistans jailed former prime minister Imran Khan a day after the country's national elections, in Peshawar | AFP

Pakistan is witnessing an unexpected political twist wherein independent candidates backed by former Prime Minister Imran Khan's party are leading the just-concluded elections to the National Assembly. 

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has so far announced 61 results of the National Assembly, showing the PTI-backed independent candidates winning 22 seats. Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari-led PPP also secured victory in 22 seats, followed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz in 17 seats.

However, according to the projection by Geo News, a Karachi-based broadcaster, independent candidates backed by Khan's PTI won in 47 of 106 parliamentary seats as counting progressed on Friday. The majority mark in the 265 seats is 133. Elections were held for all seats, except one where the candidates died.

However, the unusual delay in announcing the results has triggered speculations of rigging. The elections have already been marred by allegations of rigging, sporadic violence and a countrywide mobile phone shutdown.

There were dozens of parties in the fray but the main contest was among Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), whose candidates are running as independents, former three-time premier Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Bilawal Zardari Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Meanwhile, Nawaz Sharif's PML-N, which has won at least 17 seats so far, may form a coalition government with independent candidates, Sharif's aide Ishaq Dar suggested on Friday, Geo reported. "I am confident that we will form a government," Dar said, adding that his party would concede if any other party emerged a clear winner.

The big names who won included PML-N top leaders, including former premier Sharif who won by a big margin by getting 171,024 votes against PTI-backed independent Dr Yasmin Rashid who polled 115,043.

His younger brother and former premier Shehbaz Sharif also won, in addition to his son Hamza Shehbaz and Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz. All four family members scored victories from Lahore, their home and party's stronghold.

PTI leader Gohar Ali Khan won NA-10 in the Buner area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with 110,023 votes, according to the ECP. He defeated Awami National Party candidate Abdul Rauf who came second with 30,302 votes. PTI's former speaker National Assembly Asad Qaisar also won.

PPP leaders Asif Ali Zardari and his son party chief Bilawal were leading in their constituencies. The prominent losers in the elections were PTI's former leader and defence minister Pervaiz Khattak.

(With PTI inputs)

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