ISLAMABAD  -  After a 22-year-long struggle the dream of Imran Khan appears to be coming true as the unofficial results of 2018 general elections showed his party gaining a clear lead.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf supporters had already begun victory celebrations on Wednesday, though the election results were still incomplete and had not been officially declared till late into the night.

Adding to the confusion about the political future of the country, all the key parties except the PTI expressed strong reservations and levelled allegations of rigging. PML-N even rejected the unofficial result outrightly.

Though it was one of the most contentious general elections of the country, Pakistanis came out in good numbers to have their say in shaping of their future – despite serious security threats.

Starting at 8am, the voting came to an end at 6pm after a long and eventful day. Except for one major terror attack that claimed 31 lives in Quetta and sporadic incidents of poll violence, the national exercise largely remained peaceful.

Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk and Chief Election Commissioner congratulated the nation on successful conduct of General Elections-2018.



Who got how much?

As per the partial results however, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was convincingly leading at 111 constituencies of the National Assembly (NA) and sweeping provincial seats of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

In the race for the Punjab Assembly, the party was neck and neck with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. PTI had secured 123 provincial seats against 132 of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz – which ruled the province unchallenged for years and years.

The PML-N, which also ruled at the centre during the outgoing term, could secure only 64 NA seats. The Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) however did better than expected by securing 42 NA seats.

Of the rest, independents had grabbed 18 National Assembly seats, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) 10, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) 8, Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) 6, Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-M) 4 and Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) 3 seats.



Provincial score

In the contest for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly seats, PTI led by securing 65 seats. Awami National Party (ANP) and independents each pocketed 8 seats, MMA 5, PML-N 3 and PPP 3 slots. The results showed that PTI would be in a position to single-handedly form government in the province.

In Punjab, PML-N secured 132 slots of the provincial assembly, PTI 123, independents 29, PPP 6 and PML-Q one seat. The slim lead of the PML-N showed that it would not be able to form a strong government here even if it manages to form a coalition.

In Sindh Assembly match, PPP clinched 70 seats, PTI 22, MQM-P 20, GDA 12, PML-N 3 and Tehreek-e-Labbayk Pakistan (TLP) one seat. PPP thus appears set for another power ride in Sindh.



Rigging allegations and ECP response

As PTI supporters across the country started early celebrations in anticipation of their victory, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif announced their rejection of the election results – expressing strong apprehensions on the polling process.

PPP, MQM, ANP, MMA and TLP followed the suit with raising questions on the fairness of the elections.

ECP Secretary Babar Yaqoob Fateh was quick to respond to the complaints. He said that all polling agents had been providing Form-45 to polling agents. The form contains the final vote tally at each polling station.

Yaqoob asked all parties to approach the commission with specific complaints against ROs as well as the polling stations where irregularities had allegedly occurring.

He said that the only information he had received so far was that polling agents whose parties “were not performing well” were leaving the stations without taking the forms, and then saying they hadn’t received them.

He said that in case any proof is brought forward, action would be taken against all individuals found involved.

The provincial election commissioner in Punjab also categorically denied the allegations levelled by the PML-N.

“Political leaders should refrain from levelling such baseless allegations without having any substantial proof,” the ECP official said.

Explaining the process, the election commissioner clarified that only one polling agent of every party is allowed inside the polling station at the time of counting of votes.



Appreciation of poll efforts

Caretaker Prime Minister Justice (r) Nasirul Mulk appreciated the efforts of the election commission, provincial governments, armed forces, police, law enforcement agencies, election staff, media and all those institutions and individuals who contributed to the conduct of the elections.

While condemning the cowardly act of terrorism in Quetta, the prime minister condoled with the bereaved families of all those who got martyred in the incident and prayed for the early recovery of the injured.

The military spokesperson also expressed gratitude to the public over their support for the armed forces and law enforcement agencies during the voting process.

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar meanwhile said that polling arrangements for the general elections 2018 were satisfactory.

After casting vote in Lahore, the CJP in a brief media chat said that it was the day of democracy as timely elections were managed according to the promise made to the masses. He asserted that supremacy of law and the constitution would be maintained in the country at any cost.

In a tweet, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor thanked the people for their “unflinching support”.

“Thank you fellow Pakistanis. World has seen your love and respect for Pak Armed Forces and Law Enforcement Agencies Wednesday. You have rejected all kinds of malicious propaganda. We are strong because we have your unflinching support. Our lives are dedicated to Pakistan and its People,” the ISPR DG said.

More than 370,000 troops were deployed across the country to maintain law and order situation on the polling days.

Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa had also asked the people to come out and vote undeterred, Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). The COAS and his wife cast their votes in Rawalpindi.

“We are target of inimical forces working against Pakistan. We’ve come a long way in our comprehensive national effort to fail them. We are united and steadfast to defeat them, and today through our votes. Please come out and vote undeterred”, the COAS said in his message, according to the DG ISPR’s tweet.

Personnel of security forces across the country played a significant role to maintain peace in the most sensitive polling stations.

The election commission had declared 17,007 polling stations as most sensitive and 20,789 as sensitive – out of which 7,386 were in KP, 5,776 in Sindh, 5,686 in Punjab and 1,768 in Balochistan.



Man of the Match