Voters across Pakistan elected independent candidates backed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and its leader Imran Khan, in an election that saw a historic electoral turnout. The enthusiasm among the electorate is high in the election and the military is facing allegations of attempting manipulation of results in favour of Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

With over three-quarters of the votes tallied, PTI-backed candidates secured a lead with more than 90 seats in the national assembly. PML-N trailed with 69 seats, while the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) secured 52 seats.

PTI now faces a challenge in forming a government. They need a simple majority as many candidates were registered as independents per an election commission ruling.

Nawaz Sharif also claimed victory and extended an invitation to other parties, excluding PTI, to join in forming a coalition government. PTI leaders immediately disputed the results, citing widespread rigging allegations and claiming their actual seat count was higher.

Allegations of irregularities and rigging emerged on election night, prompting the suspension of result reporting and mobile internet access. Reports of inconsistencies, such as more votes counted than registered voters, abrupt transfers of officials, and challenges to election results in court, have fuelled suspicions of foul play.

The aftermath of the disputed election results has been marred by protests, leading to two deaths and allegations of police violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces. The situation has become increasingly volatile as tensions rise over the contested outcome.

The United Kingdom expressed concern over result delays and irregularities. Pakistan’s army chief congratulated the elections’ successful conduct. Former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi voiced apprehension about excluding PTI from the coalition.

Imran Khan’s unexpected lead in the election has surprised many, given his historically strained relationship with the military. Khan’s popularity has grown amid public frustration with military interference in politics, even though he has faced arrests and legal challenges.