Former cricket star Imran Khan has declared victory in Pakistan’s contentious elections after a campaign marred by militant violence and allegations of widespread fraud.
With the poll in chaos and final results still not confirmed after electronic counting systems crashed on election night, Mr Khan announced himself as the country’s prime-minister elect in a televised address in which he vowed to improve ties India.
Khan also vowed to run the country “as it has never before been run” by fighting corruption, seeking regional cooperation and forging a new relationship with the US that was not “one-sided.”
TV stations reported Khan and his Tehreek-e-Insaf party, or PTI, maintained a commanding lead from Wednesday’s balloting. But his leading rival, Shahbaz Sharif, rejected the outcome, citing allegations of vote-rigging.
Pakistan’s election commission struggled with technical problems and had to revert to a manual count, delaying the announcement of final results until Friday. That left unclear whether the PTI will have a simple majority in the National Assembly or have to form a coalition government, media reports said.
But that didn’t stop the 65-year-old Khan from proclaiming his triumph in an address to the nation, in which he pledged to create an Islamic welfare state to provide education and employment for the poor to fulfill a campaign promise to create 10 million jobs, the reports said.
“Today in front of you, in front of the people of Pakistan, I pledge I will run Pakistan in such a way as it has never before been run,” Khan reportedly said, vowing to wipe out corruption, strengthen institutions he called dysfunctional and regain national pride by developing international relationships based on respect and equality.
He reportedly said the United States treats Pakistan like a mercenary, giving it billions of dollars to fight the war on terrorism in a region beset with militant extremists.
“Unfortunately, so far our relations were one-sided. America thinks that it gives Pakistan money to fight for them. Because of this Pakistan suffered a lot,” said Khan, who has been critical of the US-led conflict in neighbouring Afghanistan.