Imran Khan declares victory in Pakistan election despite accusations of rigging

Imran Khan declares victory in Pakistan election despite accusations of rigging

But with leaders of the long-ruling Pakistan Muslim League and other parties alleging fraud and rigging at the polls, and final results still not announced, Khan's strong lead in the results seemed likely to trigger period of political turmoil rather than a smooth transition of power.

A suicide bombing in the southwestern city of Quetta, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, killed at least 31 people and cast a shadow over voting day.

In the run-up to the election, in India, Khan was projected as a Pakistani leader with strong anti-India sentiments with some TV channels dubbing him as the "axis of anti-India" sentiment in Pakistan. He did not say who he believes could have rigged the polls, but allegations of manipulating the elections have been made against the country's powerful military.

The unprecedented delay, along with a surprisingly strong lead in early results for Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, have fuelled widespread fears over the legitimacy of the exercise.

"We continue to monitor developments and have consistently emphasised our support for free, fair, transparent and accountable elections in Pakistan, as we do around the world", a State Department spokesperson told the Press Trust of India. The Islamic State (IS) extremist group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Khan's position on the US is far more hawkish than former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, noted Moeed Yusuf, from US Institute of Peace.

About 371,000 soldiers were stationed at polling stations across the country during voting on July 25, almost five times the number deployed at the last election in 2013.

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The third-largest party is the left-leaning Pakistan People's Party, headed by Bilawal Bhutto, the son of late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assassinated by the Pakistani Taliban, whom she had vowed to eradicate.

Supporters of Imran Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), political party wave a party flag as they celebrate during the general election in Rawalpindi, Pakistan July 25, 2018.

Khan, 65, has hailed Sharif's conviction on corruption charges this month as proof democracy is maturing in the nuclear-armed Muslim-majority nation of 208 million by finally holding its venal political elite accountable. Its spokesman, Nadeem Qasim, said Khan had violated constitutional provisions on "the secrecy of the ballot" and that his vote could be disqualified. The army has also dismissed allegations of meddling in the election.

The election comes as Pakistan's economy is in crisis, with the rupee's 20 percent decline spiking inflation and dwindling foreign currency reserves likely to force the second International Monetary Fund bailout since 2013. The Election Commission of Pakistan ruled out any "conspiracy" in the delay.

A complaint was also received against former president and PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari for barring people from voting in Badin. PTI has not ruled out seeking succour from China, Islamabad's closest ally.

In Punjab, with preliminary results from 50pc polling stations available with ECP, PML-N is now holding its lead on 129 provincial seats but PTI is closing in with a lead on 122 seats.

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