Imran Khan is on course to become Pakistan’s new prime minister, early results from the country’s election suggest.
With nearly half the votes counted from July 25election, the ex-cricket star’s PTI party is in the lead.
It is expected to fall short of an overall majority and to seek coalition partners. Officials deny claims of vote rigging made by Imran Khan’s rivals.
With votes counted in 47% of stations, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party was leading in 113 of the 272 National Assembly constituencies being contested, Pakistan’s Dawn Newspaper reported, citing Election Commission figures.
Oxford-educated Imran Khan, who led Pakistan to victory in cricket’s World Cup in 1992, first entered politics in 1996 but struggled for years on the political sidelines. In the lead-up to this vote, the 65-year-old faced accusations that he was benefiting from military interference against his rivals.
Campaigning has been marred by violence. On voting day a bomb killed 31 people at a polling station.
This election will mark only the second time that a civilian government has handed power to another after serving a full term in Pakistan.
However, the party of disgraced former PM Nawaz Sharif has rejected the results, as have a host of smaller parties, all alleging vote-rigging and manipulation.
The party of assassinated former PM Benazir Bhutto, the historically liberal PPP, is widely expected to come third.
The party is now fronted by Benazir Bhutto’s son, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, a 29-year-old Oxford University graduate.
The turnout has been estimated at between 50% and 55% out of 106 million registered voters, AFP reports.
Pakistan’s parliament is holding a joint session as PM Nawaz Sharif seeks to rally support against protesters calling for his resignation.
Clashes between security forces and demonstrators continued for a third day on September 1 in the capital Islamabad.
The army has denied suggestions it is backing anti-government groups, insisting it is “apolitical”.
Nawaz Sharif – who was elected last year – has said he is determined to protect democracy and will not resign.
The emergency session of both houses of parliament could last several days and the prime minister will make an address during the session.
Opposition cleric Tahir ul-Qadri has insisted that Nawaz Sharif should step down to face murder charges and a terrorism probe.
Tahir ul-Qadri is supported by another opposition politician, Imran Khan – who argues that the June 2013 elections were rigged.
Police were deployed in strength late on Monday as the government resumed negotiations with Tahir ul-Qadri and Imran Khan.
Protests in Pakistan had been peaceful until August 30, when violence broke out
PM Nawaz Sharif – who was elected with an overwhelming mandate – has pledged “not to let the people’s mandate be hijacked by intimidation”.
His Pakistan Muslim League is the largest political party in the country.
The country’s national PTV television channel on September 1 was briefly taken off air after protesters stormed its headquarters in Islamabad.
The army’s public relations wing on the same day issued a statement in which it described itself as an “apolitical institution” that “categorically rejected” supporting either Imran Khan or Tarih ul-Qadri.
The army’s intervention came after a senior figure in Imran Khan’s PTI party, Javed Hashmi, claimed Khan had told senior party members that the army and intelligence services were ready to help him and Tahir ul-Qadri topple the government.
A popularly elected government, which now also has the support of almost all opposition forces, is being cornered by a minority political group and the followers of a cleric who runs a charity network.
Thousands of demonstrators – some wielding batons and throwing stones – on September 1 moved on the main building housing Pakistan’s federal bureaucracy and Prime Minister’s House. A number of riot policemen were reported to have been injured.
Protests had been peaceful until August 30, when violence broke out. Three people died and hundreds were injured.
Imran Khan’s opposition party, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI), says it has decided to resign all its seats in Pakistan’s national assembly.
A senior member of party said they were trying to force PM Nawaz Sharif to step down.
The PTI party has 34 of the national assembly’s 342 seats, making it the second biggest opposition group.
Imran Khan has called for the prime ministers to step down, alleging vote rigging in the 2013 election that he won by a landslide.
Shah Mehmud Qureshi, a senior PTI leader, said the party would also withdraw from three out of four provincial assemblies in Pakistan.
The fourth province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is under PTI control and officials there will not resign, he said.
The members of parliament’s resignations must be submitted to the national assembly speaker but correspondents said this would not happen on Monday as parliament had adjourned for the day.
Imran Khan has called for Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif to step down, alleging vote rigging in the 2013 election that he won by a landslide (photo Wikipedia)
Imran Khan, a former captain of Pakistan’s cricket team, has been demonstrating along with thousands of his supporters in the capital Islamabad since Friday to demand fresh elections.
His rally took place at the same time as a similar demonstration by anti-government cleric Tahirul Qadri, who told crowds that the protests must continue until they bring a “peaceful revolution”.
Nawaz Sharif’s victory was the first democratic transfer of power in Pakistan, which has a long history of coups.
Critics say Tahirul Qadri has close ties to Pakistan’s armed forces.
Supporters of Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri are angry about Pakistan’s poorly performing economy, growing militancy, and the government’s failure to deliver services such as a steady electricity supply.
However, other opposition figures have criticized the demonstrations and Imran Khan’s call for people to stop paying tax bills in protest at the government.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, the largest opposition party, said such “unconstitutional means” would not help the cause.
“Democracy will not be served by calls for civil disobedience nor by a stubborn refusal by any side to engage in a meaningful dialogue on political issues,” Asif ALi Zardari said in a statement.
Senior Pakistani politician Zahra Shahid Hussain has been shot dead in the southern port city of Karachi.
Zahra Shahid Hussain was the senior vice-president of Pakistan’s Movement for Justice party (PTI), led by former international cricketer Imran Khan.
She was killed by gunmen on a motorcycle outside her home in the city’s upmarket Defence neighborhood.
Her murder comes on the eve of a highly-contested partial re-run of last Saturday’s general election.
The reason for the shooting is unclear.
Imran Khan has blamed the city’s dominant MQM party for her murder, a claim the party has denied.
Senior Pakistani politician Zahra Shahid Hussain has been shot dead in the southern port city of Karachi
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, citing police, said the shooting happened during an attempted robbery.
Our correspondent says that reports of Zahra Shahid Hussain being shot twice in the head raise suspicions that it was a targeted killing made to look like a robbery.
Local PTI leader Firdous Shamim told AFP news agency that Zahra Shahid Hussain “was leaving her home for work when three gunmen attacked her. She thought they wanted to snatch her purse and handed it over to them but they killed her”.
Zahra Shahid Hussain was reportedly rushed to hospital but succumbed to her injuries on the way.
Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari strongly condemned the murder, describing it as a “tragic incident”.
Sunday’s partial re-run of the vote in Karachi was ordered after Imran Khan’s party accused the MQM of widespread vote-rigging and intimidation.
The MQM – which took most of the seats in Karachi – denies any irregularities.
Karachi is torn by regular violence – much of it politically motivated.
Former cricketer and leading Pakistani politician Imran Khan has been injured after falling off a makeshift lift that was taking him onto a stage at an election rally in Lahore.
It is unclear how badly Imran Khan was hurt, but he suffered visible head injuries in the fall.
Imran Khan was taken to hospital for treatment by supporters afterwards.
He had been campaigning ahead of Saturday’s parliamentary elections, in which his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party is expected to do well.
Imran Khan has been injured after falling off a makeshift lift that was taking him onto a stage at an election rally in Lahore
Dramatic television pictures from Tuesday’s campaign rally showed Imran Khan falling about 15ft from the lift platform together with several others, some of whom appeared to land on top of him.
A dazed and bloodied Imran Khan was later seen being carried away by supporters to a vehicle which drove him to a local hospital.
After receiving initial treatment he was moved to Lahore’s Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, which he founded.
A local PTI spokesman, Malik Ishtiaq, told the AFP news agency that Imran Khan had suffered head injuries. But another spokesman described his injuries as minor and insisted he would return to the rally.
“Imran Khan is all right. He has been taken to the hospital for first aid. He will be back to address the rally very soon after getting initial treatment,” Chaudhry Rizwan said.
Imran Khan’s former wife Jemima Khan wrote on Twitter: “He is in hospital and conscious now”.
His nephew, Hassan Niazi, tweeted: “Chairman reciting kalima in ambulance – he is fine – plz just pray”.
Hundreds of well-wishers and supporters later gathered outside the Shaukat Khanum hospital, chanting “Long live Imran Khan”, AFP said.
The PTI leader has been campaigning relentlessly in the run-up to Saturday’s poll and briefly collapsed on stage earlier this week.
Imran Khan is one of the key candidates in the election, and the PTI has been gaining momentum. He believes a “tsunami” of support will sweep him to power.