Imran Khan ready to pocket Pakistan

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All set to form government, may need some smaller parties, independents

Islamabad:  Imran Khan was inching closer to form a government in Pakistan with the support of allies and independents as his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party leaders today met to discuss the next step and the future Cabinet formation.

Khan chaired a meeting of the top PTI leaders at his Bani Gala residence where he was assured by them of having the numbers to form the government.

So far his party has bagged 118 of the 270 National Assembly seats on which elections were held and was leading in another two constituencies where counting was still on.

In the 342-member National Assembly, the PTI’s strength will be 160 after acquiring 29 women’s reserved seats and 4 or 5 reserved seats for minorities, according to experts.

Khan’s ally PML-Q has won five seats and it can also have one seat reserved for women. Sheikh Rasheed of the Awami Muslim League is already supporting Khan. The PTI is in contact with MQM, which has assured its support to Khan.

Some independent winners from the tribal region are in talks with PTI and they are likely to extend their support to Khan, helping him attain the figure of 173 which is a simple majority, they said.

Some smaller Baloch parties could also support Khan.

PTI spokesman Fawad Chaudhry said that they have the required numbers to form government in center, Dunya News TV reported.

The PML-N is a distant second, leading on 64 seats, while the PPP has won 43. The Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal (MMA) ─ an alliance of multiple religious parties ─ has managed to secure just 13 seats.

Independent candidates have won 12 spots in the National Assembly, while the MQM-P has six seats to its name. The PML-Q, meanwhile, has won four seats, and the Balochistan National Party (BNP) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) have grabbed two seats each.

Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) has three seats, while Sheikh Rashid’s Awami Muslim League (AML) and Awami National Party (ANP) each have one seat.

The national voter turnout for the polls was 51.85 per cent, an additional director of the ECP announced in a press conference.

He added that the turnout in Balochistan stood at 44.79pc, at 45.52pc in KP, 55.9pc in Punjab and 48.11pc in Sindh.

Punjab Assembly

Despite performing poorly nationwide, the PML-N has emerged as the largest political party in Punjab with 127 seats, followed by the PTI (123 seats). Independent candidates have won 29 seats in the province, while PML-Q has won seven.

The PPPP has only won six seats in Punjab while PML-F, Jamshed Dasti’s Awami Raj Party and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) have won a seat each, according to the ECP.

Sindh Assembly

The PPPP appears set to form government in Sindh for the third consecutive term. The party has won 74 seats in the Sindh Assembly while the PTI has edged past MQM-P to emerge as the second-largest political party with 23 seats to its names — mostly from Karachi.

MQM-P is in the third position with 16 seats while GDA — a newly formed alliance of parties in the province — has won 11. Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) and MMA have won one seat each.

Balochistan Assembly

BAP has won 14 seats in Balochistan Assembly, becoming the largest party in the province, while the MMA is in the second place with nine seats.

Akhtar Mengal’s BNP has won five seats in the province while the PTI has won four.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

PTI has dominated electoral proceedings in KP, bagging a whopping 67 seats, followed by the MMA which has only managed to win 10. The ANP’s seat tally stands at six while the PML-N has won five. The PPPP has won four seats in the KP Assembly.

EU monitors team questions fairness of polls

“Elections eclipsed by ‘restrictions’ on freedom of expression and “unequal” opportunity”

Islamabad: A European Union team of election observers said today that Pakistan’s general elections this week were eclipsed by “restrictions” on freedom of expression and an “unequal” opportunity for candidates to campaign.

In its preliminary assessment of the 25 July elections, the EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) said the media outlets and journalists suffered from restrictions which resulted in self-censorship.

“The European Union Election Observation Mission to Pakistan has concluded that positive changes to the legal framework were overshadowed by restrictions on freedom of expression and an unequal opportunity to campaign,” it said while delivering its preliminary assessment at a press conference here.

The team, headed by EU Chief Observer Michael Gahler MEP (Germany), said that despite positive changes to the legal framework with the new Elections Act, and a stronger and more transparent Election Commission, the electoral process was negatively affected by the political environment.

He said that over 120 EU observers observed the opening, voting, counting and tabulation processes at 582 polling stations and tabulation centres in 113 constituencies in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber Pakthunkhwa and Islamabad.

“Voting was assessed as well-conducted and transparent. However, counting was somewhat problematic, with staff not always following procedures. In the polling stations observed, security personnel were present inside and outside all polling stations,” he said.

Six major political parties, including jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and former president Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party, have alleged that the votes were rigged. They have raised questions over the counting process after Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf  emerged as the single largest party in the National Assembly elections held on Wednesday.

The EU EOM said that, although there were several legal provisions aimed at ensuring a level playing field, there was a lack of equality of opportunity.

“Candidates with large political appeal and financial means, the so-called ‘electables’ were reported to often dominate the campaign. Uneven rules on campaign spending further undermined candidates’ equal opportunity,” it said.

The head of the European Parliament’s delegation to the election observation mission, Jean Lambert MEP (United Kingdom), fully endorsed the preliminary statement of the EU EOM.

“We appreciate the efforts made by the Election Commission to aim for greater inclusion in the electoral process, particularly through the Gender and Disabilities Working Group,” said Lambert.

“The 2017 Elections Act has significantly improved the legal framework particularly by increasing powers for the ECP, introducing greater transparency requirements and measures aimed at enhancing women’s participation.” However, the Mission did observe that the legal framework still contains significant gaps that need to be addressed.

Praising the ECP for the way the election was conducted, the EU EOM observed that the commission is an independent constitutional body with powers and responsibility to conduct elections.

The EU EOM also observed that the ECP adopted innovative methods to improve women and minority participation in the elections and also tried to introduce “new technologies to improve public outreach.”

The mission will remain in Pakistan until September and a final report, including recommendations for future elections, will be published afterwards.

Meanwhile, independent Fair and Free Election Network (FAFEN) in its preliminary Election Observation report said overall process of polling was smooth and fair through the country, though minor irregularities were noted.

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