AS predicted , cricketer turned politician Imran Khan led PTI has emerged as the largest party in Pakistan’s Parliament and will form the next government in the Islamist country amid accusations of vote rigging by rivals and backed by the powerful army . BBC reports representatives from several parties said that their polling agents were expelled from polling stations during vote count and were Analysts have also highlighted unusual delays in the announcement of unofficial results in dozens of constituencies, especially in the crucial province of Punjab which has been a stronghold of PML-N. In a television address, he said: “We were successful and we were given a mandate.”PML N headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz is the runners-up and Bilal Bhutto Zardari, son of Pakistan’s first lady PM Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari, ex- President has secured the distant third force. Bilal, 29 is still a student in Oxford University and spent most of his time away from home. PTI party is still expected to fall short of an overall majority and to seek coalition partners. The elections for the 272 –Member parliament were held on Thursday. Campaigning was marred by violence. On the polling day, a bomb killed 31 people at a polling station. A total of 137 seats is required for a party to form government .This election will mark only the second time that a civilian government has handed power to another after serving a full term in Pakistan. The turnout of voters is estimated at between 50% and 55% out of 106 million registered voters, BBC reports .The Dawn, widely read and respected newspaper in the country, said the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had raised questions on conduct of the voting process. “The commission received complaints that in many areas women were not allowed to vote,” the newspaper reported. In the absence of Nawaz Sharif, who won the last election, is in jail after a scandal stemming from the Panama Papers leak, his brother, Shahbaz Sharif led the PML-N.
Mr Khan, the charismatic aristocrat who captained Pakistan to a World Cup victory in 1992, has long shed his celebrity playboy image and has recently faced accusations that his election challenge was benefiting from military interference in the nuclear-armed republic. The election has been seen as a contest between Mr Khan’s PTI party and Mr Sharif’s PML-N, with the party of assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the historically liberal PPP, widely expected to come third. Imran Khan has appealed to his rivals to join hands with him to develop Pakistan. And he vowed to hold talks with India for resolution of the Kashmir imbroglio. He also called for “mutually beneficial” ties with the United States, despite being an outspoken critic of that country’s anti-terrorism measures in the region, such as drone strikes. Khan, who made his debut in politics in 1996 but remained sidelined. Noted for playboy image, he projects himself as a pious, populist, anti-poverty reformer. Khan said he would not live in the prime minister’s usual grand residence.”Whatever the ruling elite has been doing in Pakistan so far with the taxpayers’ money, I’m promising you today I will change all of that,” he said. He had promised to fight corruption and vowed to take on Pakistan’s entrenched political dynasties.(with BBC inputs)