- By Lipika Pelham & Carrie Davies, Pakistan Correspondent
- BBC news
The final outcome of Pakistan’s general election has put independent candidates backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s PTI party in the lead.
The independents won 101 seats in the National Assembly. BBC analysis shows that 93 of them went to PTI-backed candidates.
That puts them ahead of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN, which won 75, and it is unclear who will form a government.
As the wrangling continues, independent candidates who did not win have flooded the courts with allegations of election fraud.
Both the PTI, which was barred from participating in the elections, and Sharif’s PMLN say they want to form the next government.
The result was a surprise as most observers had expected Mr Sharif’s party – widely seen as the one enjoying the backing of the powerful military – to win, as Mr Khan had been jailed on charges ranging from corruption to married illegally and his party was excluded from the ballot paper. .
To govern, a candidate must show that he heads a coalition with a simple majority of 169 seats in the National Assembly.
Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN has said it has started formal talks with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s PPP on forming a government. In a statement issued by the PMLN, the party said: “The leaders agreed to work together politically to bring the country to political stability.” The two parties formed an alliance to oust Mr Khan from power in 2022 and ruled until last August.
The Karachi-based MQM party has also made a surprise return to the polls, with 17 seats, and could play a role in any coalition.
Of the National Assembly’s 366 seats, 266 are decided through direct voting and 70 are reserved – 60 for women and 10 for non-Muslims – and are allocated based on the strength of each party in the assembly.
Under Pakistani rules, independent candidates are not eligible for reserved seats in parliament.
The PTI, along with several other parties, has called for protests against the results, alleging falsification.
On Sunday, police blocked the streets near the election commission building in the city of Rawalpindi with barbed wire and large trucks, preventing protesters from accessing them.
For about 90 minutes, a crowd of several hundred protesters sang in the streets. Then the atmosphere changed. Police used several tear gas canisters to disperse the crowd, which then left the area.
Punjab police told the BBC that Section 144 was in force, a colonial-era law that prevented a gathering of more than four people.
This restriction was put in place before the elections until February 12, but it detailed that citizens were not allowed to carry firearms, not that they were not allowed to gather.
Police in Islamabad said action will be taken against protesters.
The PTI chairman had called for peaceful protests outside the Election Commission offices amid concerns over ‘rigged’ results.
Pakistani media reported that the PTI party claimed that the results of at least 18 seats in the National Assembly were “wrongly” changed by election officials.
On Saturday, Mr Sharif – thought to be favored by the military – called on other parties to help him form a unity government.
As negotiations between Khan’s political rivals get underway, experts have warned that Pakistan could face a “prolonged period of political instability”.
Dr. Farzana Shaikh of the Chatham House think tank told the BBC that it was unlikely that Khan’s allied independent parties would be allowed to form a government and that many people feared a “weak and unstable coalition” would result from any link between Mr Sharif and the government. PPP.
Meanwhile, at least six PTI-backed candidates who failed to win their seats have filed legal challenges in the court in a bid to overturn the outcome.
Among them is Yasmin Rashid, who opposed Sharif in Lahore. Petitioners allege collusion in altering election results on specific forms.
Pakistani officials have denied any irregularities. The PMLN has also reportedly formed a legal team to address allegations of manipulation.