Imran Khan claims victory, rivals allege rigging

Cricketer-turned-politician promises peace with neighbouring India, says he plans to put country on the right track.

    With nearly half the votes counted, Khan said the election will give him a chance to fulfill his lifelong dream for the country [Al Jazeera]
    With nearly half the votes counted, Khan said the election will give him a chance to fulfill his lifelong dream for the country [Al Jazeera]

    Pakistan's Imran Khan declared victory as his PTI party increased his lead in a divisive general election marred by a long delay in ballot counting and allegations of vote rigging by the opposition.

    With nearly half the votes counted, Khan said the election - which his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party is leading by a wide margin - will give him a chance to fulfil his lifelong dream for the nuclear-armed, Muslim majority country.

    "I started this struggle 22 years ago and thankfully, today, I have been given a chance to fulfil what I dreamt for the country," said Khan on Thursday.

    "We will run Pakistan like it's never been run before.

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    "We are going to uplift Pakistan's poor and help our country's labourers. Corruption has been eating Pakistan like a kind of cancer. We will set an example that the law will be the same for everybody."

    Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and rival Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) both said their monitors in many voting centres were either kicked out during counting or had not received the official notifications of the precinct's results, but instead got hand-written tallies that they could not verify.

    "It is a sheer rigging. The way the people's mandate has blatantly been insulted, it is intolerable," Shehbaz, PML-N chief and Nawaz's brother, told a news conference on Wednesday as the counting continued.

    Khan offered to investigate all the claims of rigging and said he wants to "unite" the country under his leadership.

    The 65-year-old also called for "mutually beneficial" ties with Pakistan's on-off ally the United States and offered an olive branch to regional rival India, saying the two nations should resolve the long-simmering dispute over Kashmir.

    "Take one step towards us, we will take two steps towards you. We need to have a dialogue to settle our issues."

    With 48 percent of the total vote counted, Khan's PTI was listed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in its provisional results as leading in 113 of 272 contested National Assembly constituencies.

    While it is uncertain whether Khan will attain the requisite 137 seats to lead a majority in the National Assembly, he is largely expected to form the next government by partnering with smaller parties and independents. 

    SOURCE: News agencies


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