The political crisis in Pakistan has escalated with former Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) calling for a nationwide protest on Sunday. The stir call comes as Pakistan's powerful army chief Gen Asim Munir backed ex-premier Nawaz Sharif's plea to his rivals to help form a coalition government.
When the votes to the National Assembly were counted, PTI won 92 seats, emerging at the top. Nawaz Sharif's PML-N won 77 while Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's PPP won 54 seats. To form a government, a party must win 133 seats out of 265 in the National Assembly.
However, the PTI chairman Gohar Khan claimed that the party won elections on 170 seats in the National Assembly. Khan also said the 'peaceful protests' across the country on Sunday afternoon were aimed at protecting the sanctity of the vote as independent candidates are in the lead with 100 seats, ARY News reported.
A statement by the party said important decisions were made during the meeting which the party said would be implemented after consultation with PTI founder Imran Khan. "The people have given their verdict in a peaceful and constitutional manner," the PTI said, adding that now it's time to protect the mandate.
Meanwhile, more PTI-backed independent candidates have started moving high courts, alleging rigged poll counts. PTI-affiliated Independent candidates moved to the Lahore High Court challenging the results of the PP-164 and NA-118, where father-son duo Shehbaz Sharif and Hamza Shehbaz secured victory. Dr Yasmeen Rashid also challenged former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s victory in Lahore’s NA-130 constituency in the Lahore High Court.
Another Independent candidate, Shehzad Farooq, challenged Maryam Nawaz’s win from Lahore’s NA:119 while another PML-N candidate Ata Tarar’s win from NA:127 was also been challenged in court by PTI-supported Independent candidate Zaheer Abbas Khokhar.
3 independents join PML-N
Three newly-elected independent candidates have joined the Nawaz Sharif's party, according to reports. Barrister Aqeel, Raja Khurram Nawaz, and Mian Khan Bugti officially announced their decision to join the PML-N, strengthening the party's growing tally of elected members to the National Assembly. In Pakistan, independent candidates cannot form a government on their own and need to join a party.
However, khan's close aide and media adviser, Zulfi Bukhari, told Reuters the party would announce within the next day the party banner they will ask independents to join. "We have no fear of independents going anywhere because these are the people who have struggled for the last 18 months and endured all kinds of torture and oppression," Bukhari told Reuters.