Tumultuous street celebrations erupted in Pakistan after trends showed that Imran Khan-led PTI was leading other political parties by a wide margin in the general election marred by violence and allegations of rigging.
According to latest trends, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was leading on 110 seats, followed by the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz of jailed leader Nawaz Sharif on 67.
Hundreds of PTI supporters came out on streets in several cities, including the country’s capital Islamabad, dancing and celebrating with loud music. They had parked their vehicles on main roads and on the sideways, leading to massive traffic jams.
“We have got our Naya Pakistan,” said Shahid Ali, one of the supporters, as he danced euphorically near the busy Faizabad interchange, which links Islamabad with the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
The Dispatch correspondent was caught for several hours in traffic when returning from the election coverage, as highly-charged workers of Khan’s party raised victory slogans.
Similar midnight celebrations were being organised in many other parts of Pakistan.
But the euphoria among PTI workers appeared premature as the PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party have rejected the election results. “Our polling agents were not given results and we will not accept it,” said Khurshid Shah of PPP.
PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif also rejected the election outcome, alleging “blatant” rigging. He warned of protests.
Analysts predicted tumultuous weeks ahead for Pakistan as a strong opposition to the election results was building up.
PML-N was leading on 67 seats and PPP on 39. “They will make a lethal combination if they joined hands against Imran Khan,” analyst Sohail Warriach said.
A party can form the government if it manages to clinch 172 seats out of the total 342. A single party will need at least 137 of the 272 directly-elected seats to be able to form the government on its own.