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Major parties in tight race in Pakistan general elections

By KASWAR KLASRA in Islamabad and XU WEIWEI in Hong Kong | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-09 17:29

Polling officers count ballot papers during the general election in Karachi, Pakistan Feb 8, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

The Election Commission of Pakistan announced on Friday that it was receiving results from across the country following the successful holding of elections on Thursday.

Preliminary but verified results from the committee indicate that candidates of main parties are very close in counted results so far.

The Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) is leading the race with 10 seats for the Pakistani Parliament, followed closely by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-backed Independents, who have secured 7 seats. Meanwhile, the Pakistan People's Party Parliamentary, led by former president Asif Ali Zardari, has secured 5 seats.

Key figures from the Pakistan Muslim League-N, including president Shehbaz Sharif, emerged victorious in constituencies 123 of the National Assembly and 158 of the Provincial Assembly.

In a significant victory, Shahbaz Sharif secured a win from the NA-123 constituency of Lahore with 63,953 votes, while independent candidate Afzal Azim Pahat came in second with 48,486 votes.

Shahbaz Sharif also clinched victory from the PP 158 constituency of Lahore, further solidifying the PML-N's position. Maryam Nawaz Sharif, daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, won with a significant majority in PP 159.

Results began trickling in nearly 12 hours after polling commenced for national and provincial assemblies. However, the day was not without its challenges.

Pakistan's Chief Election Commissioner, Sikandar Sultan Raja, assured on Thursday that the results of national and provincial elections are currently being compiled and will be announced promptly. In a video message, Raja congratulated the nation for the successful conduct of the elections while acknowledging concerns raised by political parties regarding the slow pace of result announcements.

"Results are incredibly slow coming in. However, initial results are very encouraging! PPP candidates and independents whom we have supported/engaged with seem to be doing well! Let's see what the final tally is in the end," said Pakistan People's Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on social media platform X.

In Pakistan's parliamentary system, a party requires a simple majority of 169 seats in the 342-seat parliament to form the national government. The lower house, known as the National Assembly, elects the prime minister, who must also be a member of the assembly. Similarly, the four provincial assemblies also elect their respective leaders, known as chief ministers, following a similar process.

Last night, 51 terrorist attacks took place in different regions of the South Asian country to disrupt the electoral process, according to the Pakistani Army.

Twelve people, including 10 security forces and law enforcement agencies personnel, were killed and 39 others were injured in these attacks that took place mostly in the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and southwest Balochistan provinces, noted the Inter-Services Public Relations, the media wing of the Pakistan army in a statement.

The media wing said with the deployment of 137,000 army personnel and civil armed forces at about 6,000 selected most sensitive polling stations and over 7,800 quick response force teams, a safe and secure environment for the public was ensured. It added that during various operations, five terrorists were also killed.

"We extend heartfelt congratulations to the nation on the generally peaceful and violence-free conduct of the general elections," the statement also said.

Commenting on explosions that occurred before the elections in Pakistan, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Thursday, "We are deeply shocked by and strongly condemn the attacks in Pakistan. We mourn for the victims and express our sympathies to their families and the injured."

China opposes all forms of terrorism and firmly supports the Pakistani government and people in making relentless effort to eradicate terrorism and safeguard the security and stability of the society, he added.

Regarding the general elections in Pakistan, he said that this is the internal affair of Pakistan.

"As the all-weather strategic partner and iron-clad friend, we hope the general elections in Pakistan will be held in a smooth, steady and safe manner," he noted.

Xinhua contributed to this report

Contact the writers at vivienxu@chinadailyapac.com

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