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Pakistan: Imran Khan-backed candidates join little known party to gain numbers

Pakistan: Imran Khan-backed candidates join little known party to gain numbers

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD (AA) - Independent candidates backed by Pakistan's jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan have joined a little known party to gain reserve seats in parliament.

The candidates claim they have the numbers needed to form a government days after elections in the South Asian nation resulted in a hung parliament.

Nearly 100 newly elected members of the National Assembly and around 200 in the provincial assemblies have merged into the Sunni Ittehad Council, a small religiopolitical party, to get its share in reserve seats of women and minorities.

The 336-seat National Assembly has 60 seats reserved for women and 10 for religious minorities.

These are proportionately distributed among parties.

Despite winning the largest number of seats in the elections, the candidates backed by Khan could not form a coalition with other parties to reach a simple majority.

In a related development, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) announced a power-sharing deal to form the next government. The two parties have taken turns to rule Pakistan in its over 70-year checkered history marred with long military dictatorships.

 

- Rigging allegations

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) candidates fought elections as independent since the party symbol, bat, was taken off ballot paper following court orders.

The candidates have claimed there was massive rigging in the election and its "mandate was stolen."

The government as well as the electoral body have denied any wrongdoing.

The election body is required by law to upload key poll documents on its website by Thursday, however, the Election Commission says they are still hearing around 300 challenges to the results.

In another development which sent shockwaves down the already tense post-election atmosphere in the country, last week a top administrator of garrison city Rawalpindi, Commissioner Liaqat Ali Chattha, publicly admitted to changing all of the results against the independent candidates in his city.

Pakistanis cast their ballots on Feb. 8 to choose representatives of the National Assembly and provincial assemblies.

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