Published: Thu, July 26, 2018
Global Media | By Derrick Guzman

Blast kills more than 28 in Pakistan on election day, hospital says

Blast kills more than 28 in Pakistan on election day, hospital says

Just under 106 million voters - half of the population - braved visits to polling stations despite an Islamic State suicide bomb killing 31 people.

Cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan has declared victory for his party in Pakistan's historic elections, promising a "new" Pakistan.

A spokeswoman for Mr Sharif's party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), said there were already "serious reservations" about the vote count after reports that soldiers stationed in polling stations had thrown out political parties' monitors during the tabulations. As Mike Armstrong explains, the election results could have wider repercussions for the region.

Meanwhile, not surprisingly the election was marred by allegations of rigging by the major rival of Khan's PTI.

Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zadari, 29, expressed similar concerns on Twitter.

"The delay is being caused because the result transmission system has collapsed". A party needs 137 seats for a majority.

Nearest rival, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), has won 64 seats.

Both men are in their mid-60s, but their rivalry embodies two competing versions of reality - Mr Khan's call to free Pakistan of corrupt political dynasties, and the Sharifs' campaign to end shadowy military, judicial and bureaucratic influence in politics.

Khan, who has led a relentless anti-graft campaign, had the momentum heading into the election, and is seen as the military's top choice for prime minister despite his denials.

"We will sweep the elections", said Abdul Basit, a supporter of Khan's, who watched the results on a large TV screen.

About 371,000 soldiers have been stationed at polling stations across the country, almost five times the number deployed at the last election in 2013.

His accusations centre on official ballot results paperwork, known as a Form-45, not being shared with his party at polling stations.

Khan is also likely to be met with trepidation in neighbouring Afghanistan, where he has been vocal in his opposition to the US-led invasion that followed the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Election researcher Azeema Cheema said the contest remained "too competitive to call", with the most populous province of Punjab likely to be the key following fierce campaigning in battleground areas there. The PTI and ruling PML-N are thought to be neck and neck in the elections.

At a midnight press conference when the vote count was underway, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif said the election was a "blatant violation" of the mandate of the people.

The election, in which Pakistanis voted for the national assembly, the lower house of parliament, and the four provincial assemblies, marked only the second time in Pakistan's 71-year history that one civilian government has handed power to another in the country of 200 million people. He did not say who he believes could have rigged the polls, but allegations of manipulating the elections have been made against the country's powerful military. Sharif has clashed repeatedly with the military over the years and was jailed this month on corruption charges, which he is appealing.

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