Pakistan's army chief on Saturday called on the country to “break with the politics of anarchy” at a time when supporters of imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan have a good chance of coming out on top in the legislative elections but could be excluded from a government coalition.

“As the people of Pakistan have placed their trust in the Constitution of Pakistan, it is now incumbent on all political parties to do the same by demonstrating political maturity and unity,” Syed Asim Munir said in a statement released SATURDAY.

“The nation needs safe and healing hands to break away from the politics of anarchy and polarization,” the general added.

Although facing fierce repression from the authorities, Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has surpassed expectations.
The independent candidates he supported obtained at least 100 seats (including 89 loyal to Mr. Khan), according to a count as of Saturday morning.

It is ahead of Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), favorite in the poll, with 73 seats. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari's Pakistan People's Party (PPP) is third with 54 seats.

An artificial intelligence (AI)-generated video was released on Saturday morning by Mr Khan's party where the ex-prime minister is shown claiming victory.

“According to independent sources, we won 150 seats in the National Assembly before the manipulation (of the election) began,” says an AI-generated Imran Khan on these images.

Thirteen of the 266 seats at stake have yet to be allocated.

In the absence of an absolute majority, the three main blocs will have to negotiate alliances. The PML-N appears best placed to achieve this, but all options remain open.

“We invite other parties and winning candidates to work with us,” said Nawaz Sharif, 74, who has already served three terms as prime minister.

Returning to Pakistan in October after four years of exile in London, he would have the support of the army, according to observers.

Imran Khan's party was not allowed to appear on the ballot papers, its candidates presenting themselves as independents.
Smaller parties won 27 seats in total. They could arouse the desires of the PTI in the coming days.

If independents supported by the PTI join them, they could then allocate part of the 70 seats reserved for women and religious minorities, allocated proportionally according to previous results, to which the PTI cannot claim, due to lack of authorization to compete under its colors.

Two PTI supporters killed

Pro-PTI candidates mainly won seats in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (northwest), its stronghold, where two of its supporters were killed and 24 injured in riots on Friday evening. A few scattered demonstrations by PTI supporters were reported in the country on Saturday.

On Thursday, 16 people were killed during 61 recorded attacks, according to the Interior Ministry. The day before, 28 people died in two bomb attacks.

Founded on family dynasties and traditionally rivals, the PML-N and the PPP have shared most of the power with the army for decades.

They have already worked together and could repeat the experience. They formed a coalition government after Imran Khan was ousted as prime minister in 2022.

The PPP then distanced itself from the PML-N during the campaign and seems to have suffered less from the unpopularity of this government.

Its 35-year-old leader, son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, assassinated in 2007, has been critical of the PML-N. But Pakistani politics is accustomed to reversals and seemingly unnatural arrangements.


The Electoral Commission cited “internet problems” to explain the slowness of the process. The authorities' shutdown of mobile telephone and internet services on Thursday had already fueled doubts.

The campaign was also marked by accusations of “pre-election fraud”, with the sidelining of the popular Imran Khan, 71, sentenced to three long prison terms.

Washington and London expressed their “concerns” on Friday about the conduct of the elections.

Pakistan, which has a nuclear arsenal, occupies a strategic position between Afghanistan, China, India and Iran.
Protests took place on Friday evening in Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and in Quetta in Balochistan.

“Our results have been changed,” protests Muhammad Saleem, a 28-year-old trader, who came among some 2,000 PTI supporters to block a major thoroughfare in Peshawar.

The anti-establishment posture of Imran Khan, former cricket star, continues to fuel his popularity, despite a stint in power marked by a deterioration in the economic situation.

He directly challenged the army, which ruled the country for decades and yet was presumed to have supported him during his election in 2018. He accused it of having orchestrated his fall in 2022 and attributed its legal troubles.

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