In a major relief to Imran Khan, the election commission on Thursday declared him the winner from four parliamentary constituencies, including Lahore, clearing the way for his swearing-in as Pakistan’s new Prime Minister. Though the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman has won from all five constituencies he contested in the July 25 general election, cases against the cricketer-turned-politician, including for violation of the election code of conduct, had put his plans in jeopardy.
However, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) on Thursday came to his rescue and issued a victory notification for Lahore’s NA-131 constituency, declaring Khan the winner of the contest against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s Saad Rafique. The notification was issued after the Supreme Court set aside the Lahore High Court’s earlier order restraining the ECP from issuing the victory notification for the Lahore-IX seat.
Justice Mamoon Rashid Sheikh of the Lahore High Court had ordered a vote recount after accepting a petition moved by Rafique, the runner-up on the seat in the July 25 General Election. Khan, with 84,313 votes, had defeated Rafique by over 600 votes in closely contested polls in NA-131 Lahore-9 constituency.
The bulk of victory notifications were sent out by the ECP on August 7. However, it withheld the results of nine national and 17 provincial assembly seats for various reasons. Among them was the notification for the NA-53 seat in Islamabad, another seat that Khan contested against PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.
The ECP said earlier today it has also cleared the notifications for Khan’s victory in NA-35 Bannu, NA-243 Karachi and NA-95 Mianwali seats to the National Assembly, Geo News reported. The only constituency that the ECP has withheld the notification for is NA-53 Islamabad where it has demanded a signed apology from Imran for violating the electoral code of conduct while casting his vote during the general election 2018.
The 65-year-old PTI leader is expected to be sworn-in as the prime minister early next week after the President summons the National Assembly, probably on Monday. Khan’s PTI is the single largest in the 272-member National Assembly with 116 seats.