Millions of Pakistanis, out of 128 million registered voters, voted to elect their lawmakers on Thursday under nationwide internet and mobile restrictions, intermittent political violence, and a fatal terror attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
A total of 855 seats were contested by 17,816 independent and party-affiliated candidates, including 265 National Assembly, 296 Punjab Assembly, 130 Sindh Assembly, 113 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), and 51 Balochistan.
According to observers, voter turnout remained around 47%.
As per provisional results, independent candidates (the majority of whom are PTI-backed) secured 93 seats in the National Assembly, whereas the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) acquired 75 seats and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) gained 54 seats.
PML-N secured 137 seats; independent candidates (the majority of them are PTI-backed) won 116 seats, whereas the PPP got 10 seats.
PPP gained 84 seats, independent candidates won 11 seats, and MQM-P secured 28 seats.
PPP secured 11 seats, PML-N won 10 seats, and no independent candidates emerged victorious.
PTI-backed independent candidates won 83 seats, PML-N secured 5 seats, and PPP gained 4 seats.
Incidents Of violence During Polling
The run-up to the polls was violent, with a considerable increase in terrorist attacks, particularly in Balochistan and KP.
Aside from the despicable terrorist attack on police in Dera Ismail Khan (DI), which killed four personnel, the election day was rather tranquil, with no significant violent incidents recorded from elsewhere in the country.
The government's contentious eleventh-hour measure, which threw doubt on the openness, fairness, and freedom of polls, was the countrywide suspension of mobile and internet services. This action prompted strong criticism from Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JIP) chief Hafiz Naeem Ur Rehman, and independent candidate Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, among others.
While the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) pledged to release the election results immediately, hours-long delays provoked outrage, with some parties casting doubt.
However, the commission has begun to release preliminary results, putting an end to uncertainty among candidates.
Orders Of Re-Polling In Specific Constituencies On Feb 15
Following the verification of accusations about snatching and destroying voting materials, the ECP issued directions to re-poll in PS-18 Ghotki-I, NA-88 Khushab-II, and PK-90 Kohat-I constituencies on February 15.
PPP, PML-N Agree To Join Hands
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have agreed to establish a coalition government in the Centre and Punjab after PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif met with PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and former President Asif Ali Zardari and invited them to work together for Pakistan.
Shehbaz met with top PPP leaders at the home of Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi. According to party sources, Shehbaz discussed future government formation with Zardari and delivered a message from PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif. Shehbaz requested the two PPP leaders engage with the PML-N leadership to ensure Pakistan's political and economic stability.
According to sources, Zardari and Shehbaz agreed to establish a government in Punjab and at the center, and both parties would give their respective perspectives at the next meeting before finalizing all topics concerning the power-sharing formula, including who will assume which post and where, by mutual consultation.
Army Chief Congratulates Nation On Successful Conduct Of Elections
On Saturday, Army Chief General Asim Munir congratulated the nation on the conduct of the February 8 polls, saying the nation needs steady hands and a healing touch to move on from the politics of disorder and divisiveness.
“Elections are not a zero-sum competition of winning and losing but an exercise to determine the mandate of the people. Political leadership and their workers should rise above self-interest and synergize efforts in governing and serving the people, which is perhaps the only way to make democracy functional and purposeful,” the army chief said, as per the military's media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
He said that now that the people of Pakistan have placed their faith in the Pakistani constitution, it is incumbent on all political parties to reciprocate with political maturity and unity.
PTI’s Barrister Gohar Calls For Leaders’ Release, Mandate Acceptance
Barrister Gohar Khan, a key leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), urged the release of the party's "political prisoners," including founder Imran Khan, in response to Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir's "healing touch" comment on general elections.
Barrister Gohar responded to General Munir's remarks, saying that the "healing touch" implies there should be no political prisoners in the country.
The statement by the politician, who also defends Khan in his legal struggles, came during an interview with Arab News, laying the groundwork for the party's future maneuvers as its candidates lead in surveys.