The former cricketer turned politician Imran Khan declared victory in Pakistan’s elections on Thursday, hailing what he describes as the “fairest” vote in the country’s history despite opposition claims of vote-rigging and corruption.
Khan, who captained Pakistan’s national cricket team during the 1990s, denied allegations that the military interfered in the electoral process, following a campaign marred by brutal violence against politicians and civilians.
“I feel that this election has been the fairest in Pakistan’s history,” he said. “If any party has any doubts, we will open the results of those constituencies up for investigation.” According to the AFP, turnout was estimated at between 50 and 55 percent out of 106 million registered voters.
In his victory speech, Khan also called on people to unite and help him build a greater Pakistan, having promised to improve relations with India over the two country’s ongoing dispute over the Kashmir region and develop “mutually beneficial” ties with the United States.
The leader of the second-placed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Shahbaz Sharif, said his party would “wholly reject” the result. Sharif is the brother of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, who was forced to step down last year after being found hiding significant personal funds abroad as part of the document dump from law firm Mossack Fonseca known as the “Panama Papers.”
“I am forced to say that we completely reject these results,” he said at a press conference in Lahore on Wednesday, claiming there had been a “blatant violation of public’s mandate.”
“There were long queues today despite the extremely hot weather. But when the polling ended, I saw a very scary situation,” he explained. “By 7 p.m., when results started to pour in, no result was announced from constituencies in Lahore. We received complaints from across the country that polling agents are not given Form-45 and are being expelled from the polling stations.”
The PML-N’s concerns were also echoed by other parties including the Pakistan Peoples Party, who could hold the balance of power in a coalition government given Khan’s party fell short of a majority. In a press conference, Raza Rabbani and Sherry Rehman of the PPP said there would be “serious repercussions” for electoral manipulation.
“Throwing out polling agents is a serious issue with serious repercussions. Polling agents are being thrown out in Badin, and results are being withheld in PS-66 Hyderabad,” said Rabbani. “We said this earlier too, that if the will of the people is manipulated this way, there will be serious consequences.”
“There has been a clear trend of interference, in which all parties except one are being pushed to the wall,” Rehman added.