Islamabad: Independents affiliated with Jailed Pakistani Former Prime Minister Imran Khan have surprised the major political parties by taking a lead in the General Election 2024. The independents have secured nearly 100 seats in the National Assembly as counting near end. Moreover, the PTI has formed rigging allegations on multiple seats and claimed to won over 170 seats.
According to the results of 255 out of the total 265 National Assembly constituencies has showed that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) linked Independents scored 100 seats. The dynastic political parties Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) have won 73 and 54 respectively, as per Dawn Reports.
While Jailed PTI Chief Imran Khan, in an AI-generated “victory speech” posted on social site X on Friday, called the vote an “unprecedented fightback from the nation” that resulted in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) “landslide victory”, despite what he calls a crackdown on his party.
On the other hand, PMLN President Nawaz Sharif whose claims for taking a two-third majority were snatched by the PTI’s surprise, has accepted not having the big numbers and indicated to form an alliance with PPP and other parties to form a coalition government. Also, he is ready to join hands with the independents “to pull out the country of crisis.”
Moreover, Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, also a declared candidate for the Prime Minister's office, has expressed the hope that many independents will join his party.
It remains to be seen how many PTI-backed independent candidates will remain loyal to their jailed leader as they are not legally bound to follow the party’s policy. Khan’s PTI candidates were forced to contest as independents after they were restrained from using the party’s iconic symbol -bat- to help illiterate voters find them on ballots.
Under Rule 92(6) of the election rules, all independent candidates will have to join a political party after their victory notification. Another option will be to form a new party with any name they like. If they stay together and decide to sit in opposition, they will be in a comfortable position to clinch the office of opposition leader in the National Assembly.
Rule 92 (6) also reads, “For the purpose of this rule, the expression ‘total number of general seats won by political party’ shall include the independent returned candidate or candidates who may duly join such political party within three days of the publication in the official Gazette of the names of the returned candidates.” A proviso to the rule reads, “Provided that if the independent candidate applies to the leader of a political party for joining his party, then the leader of that political party will forthwith inform the [Election] Commission of joining of such candidate through a letter to be delivered to the Commission along with the consent of that candidate duly attested by a Notary appointed under the Notaries Ordinance, 1961 (XIX of 1961) or an Oath Commissioner appointed under the Oaths Act, 1873 (X of 1873) or a Government servant in basic pay scale 17 and above: Provided that the consent of the independent candidate so delivered to the Commission shall, in no circumstances, be open to recall or cancellation.”
Hectic political activity is expected to be seen in the next few days, and the independents will be approached by the two major parties with golden offers and privileges. Experts believe that not only they will be offered government share and cabinet seats but may be offered the chairmanship of several standing committees and appointments as parliamentary secretaries. But majorly it will be a test for Barrister Gohar Khan's Leadership as to How he will keep the party-backed independent candidates united to form a government in the center in the absence of Imran Khan after the two Contenders signaled to join hands with the independent candidates.
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