The Latest: US commends ‘courage’ of Pakistanis who voted
ISLAMABAD (AP) — The Latest on results of Pakistan’s national election (all times local):
The United States has commended “the courage of the Pakistani people, including many women” that turned out to vote in the country’s general election.
In a statement Friday, State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, also condemned the violence leading up to Wednesday’s balloting. “We offer our deepest condolences to the victims and their families, and wish a speedy recovery to those injured,” she said.
“The development of strong democratic and civilian institutions of governance and a vibrant civil society is critical to Pakistan’s long-term stability and prosperity,” the statement added.
The U.N. says Secretary General Antonio Guterres is congratulating the Pakistani people for voting and reaffirming “their commitment to a democratic Pakistan.”
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Guterres “looks forward to the formation of the new government and wishes it success in providing the people of Pakistan a stable, democratic, and prosperous future.”
The U.N. statement made no mention of Pakistani election officials declaring the party of Imran Khan to be the winner of parliamentary balloting.
Dujarric said the secretary-general commended the Electoral Commission for organizing the elections, “noting positive initiatives related to training and efforts to enhance the inclusion of women, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups, as well as first-time voters, in the electoral process.”
“The United Nations is committed to continue to support the Electoral Commission,” he said.
The European Union’s monitoring team gave a passing grade to election day polling in Pakistan.
But it gave a failing grade to the pre-polling campaigning marred by intimidation of the media and unfair targeting of the former ruling party, which it said overshadowed the successes.
“Our overall assessment of the election process is that it is not as good as in 2013,” Michael Gahler, EU monitoring team chief said Friday. He addressed reporters at a news conference in the capital Islamabad to release its preliminary results.
Gahler said the EU had 120 monitors deployed across the country. They visited 582 polling stations in 113 different constituencies.
Despite his criticism he said the election results that gave cricket star turned politician Imran Khan a win were credible.
“Over all the election results are credible,” he said.
A group that monitors elections has urged Pakistan’s elections oversight body to address concerns of the country’s political parties, which have made fraud claims about this week’s elections.
Friday’s reaction from the Free and Fair Election Network came after the country’s Election Commission rejected allegations of fraud without conducting a formal probe.
The election monitoring group says there is a need to investigate allegations of fraud to avoid political instability.
FAFEN said “concerns emerged over the transparency of the counting process, and the subsequent slow process of announcement of provisional results prompted some political parties to reject the election results.”
Hundreds of supporters from an alliance of religious political parties are rallying in the northwest Pakistan city of Hangu alleging this week’s national elections were fraudulent.
Friday’s protest was the first against election results by the opposition.
Maulana Fazlur Rehman, who heads the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal alliance, had threatened to agitate against fraud in Wednesday’s vote.
They claimed many of their votes were rejected by election officials and their election agents were thrown out of the room by security forces during vote counts.
According to official results, Rehman’s alliance secured only 12 seats in the National Assembly out of 269 contested seats.
His alliance ruled Pakistan’s northwest from 2002 to 2007 following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.
Official results show cricket star Imran Khan won in Pakistan’s polls but he will have to seek out allies to form a coalition government.
After a tediously slow count, Pakistan election officials Friday announced Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won 109 of the 269 seats being contested in the National Assembly. The election Wednesday gave his nearest rival, Shahbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League 63 seats. Sharif who heads the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif has rejected the results charging widespread fraud and manipulation.
Khan declared his victory on Thursday and dismissed the allegations of fraud calling it the most transparent election in Pakistan’s history.
Third place went to the left of center Pakistan People’s party with 39 seats. Results from 20 seats were still being counted.