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Imran Khan's party makes early gains despite hurdles

Election Commission shows close race between Sharif, Khan parties


 |  Islamabad

(Photo: BBC)

Votes are being counted in Pakistan after yesterday's general election which was marred by the suspension of mobile phone services and violent unrest, BBC reported.

According to the latest vote-count updates, Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) (PML-N) has won 17 out of the 51 seats, the country's electoral commission has said.

Independents backed by the party of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan have won 14 seats, according to the Election Commission of Pakistan.

News agency Reuters also says a total of 12 seats have been won so far by the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by Bilawal Bhutto, son of former leader Benazir Bhutto, while others have been won by smaller parties or independents not linked to Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. 

Many analysts say this is among Pakistan's least credible elections and results have been slow to come out compared to previous votes.

Some 44 parties competed for a seat in the National Assembly - but many experts agree there is only one contender for the top job - former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Once viewed as an opponent to Pakistan's powerful military, Mr Sharif is now seen as their preferred candidate in a dramatic turnaround in fortunes.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been barred from standing, after being ousted from power and is now imprisoned on several convictions. However, Imran Khan's popularity has not waned even from behind bars, and many from his PTI party stood as independent candidates.

Voters by the numbers
128m people have registered to vote in the elections, making up nearly half of its population.

About 44% of the registered voters are under the age of 35 - making the youth vote one to watch in this year’s poll.

The voter turnout is expected to be lower though. The last elections in 2018 saw a voter turnout of 52%.

About 69m or 53% of the voters are men. Although voting is a constitutional right in the country, many women in the country’s rural areas are not allowed to cast their ballots under tribal norms.


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