In Pakistan, the opposition party Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has declared victory in the parliamentary elections. This comes two days after the elections and amidst a difficult government formation process. The Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also claimed victory earlier. However, PTI chairman Gohar Khan spoke of electoral fraud and called on institutions to respect the will of the voter at a press conference in Islamabad on Saturday.
Despite Sharif’s party failing to secure a majority with 95 percent of constituencies counted, he is open to forming a coalition with other parties such as the third-placed popular party PPP led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardar. Sharif may also try to court possible defectors among independent candidates or form an alliance with small parties to find a majority.
The country’s elections were marred by violence and a suspension of mobile and internet services, which prevented some people from casting their votes. Activists reported that these measures hindered free and fair voting. Pakistan is currently facing a deep economic crisis with massive inflation, which has contributed to repeated unrest and instability in the country since its founding over 75 years ago. Despite periods under military rule for more than half of this time, even under civilian governments, the powerful military was seen as the force that could determine political success or failure.
In light of this history, Pakistan Army Chief Asim Munir urged political leaders to put aside their own interests and serve the people for the betterment of the nation’s future. Munir emphasized that it is important that Pakistan ends up with leaders who have “a healing power” to break anarchy and polarization in order for long-term stability to be achieved in the country.