Islamabad: Declaring that it would form the government both at the centre as well as in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party on Saturday asked the election commission to announce complete results by midnight or face protests in areas where results were still awaited. However, within hours of issuing this statement, party workers at Peshawar and Karachi embarked on loud protests complete with sloganeering and waving of party flags.
Springing a surprise, independents backed by jailed former prime minister Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the lion’s share of 101 seats in the National Assembly in Thursday’s election. Two days after the polling was held, the results were not yet complete and the country appeared headed to a hung Parliament or a coalition government.
Addressing a press conference, PTI chief Gohar Ali Khan demanded the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to announce complete results by midnight or face protests by his supporters in areas where results were still awaited and said, otherwise “PTI supporters will stage peaceful protests outside offices of returning officers (ROs).” He also accused the ECP of failing to play its constitutional role to announce results on time.
Hours after announcing the move, party workers at many seats embarked on loud protests in front of the respective RO offices. “Protest Alert Peshawar! Huge protest in Peshawar against rigging & manipulation on NA28 & numerous other provincial seats of the city!,” PTI’s official ‘PTI Politics Update’ X handle posted along with a video from the site. It posted similar videos from Sialkot, Karachi and Balochistan.
PTI’s main X handle kept posting constituency-wise results with the label “Rigging Alert” even as the party’s secretary general & acting President of PTI Punjab, Hammad Azhar made an appeal from his official X handle: “Our candidates should file an immediate FIR against those involved in the RO rigging. Please convey my message to all candidates.” Claiming that his party had won 170 seats including those seats on which the PTI was already declared as the winner, Gohar said, his party would form the government at the centre as well as in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
He also claimed that the PTI had the proof of Form 45 of polling stations that showed its supported candidates had won but the ROs declared them unsuccessful. Gohar appealed to the “institutions as well as the judiciary” to accept the mandate of the people, who voted for PTI’s slogan that “slavery is unacceptable” and asserted that the mandate of the people should be accepted. “The economy and county cannot afford the rejection of this mandate,” he said.
Gohar was handpicked as chairman of PTI after Imran Khan’s conviction. The soft-spoken barrister from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province has been trying to run the party affairs in the most difficult time when its founder has been convicted and all front-line leaders have left it. His leadership was also rejected by the ECP in a case related to intra-party polls and challenged by the party in the Supreme Court.