Imran Khan’s party-backed independent candidates spring surprise in Pakistan elections

In a surprise, jailed former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s party-backed independent candidates seemed to be gaining the upper hand after the results of the general elections started trickling in on Friday following unusual delays that led to allegations of rigging.

Votes are still being counted in Pakistan after Thursday’s general election which was marred by allegations of rigging, sporadic violence and a countrywide mobile phone shutdown.

There were dozens of parties in the fray but the main contest was among Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), whose candidates are running as independents, former three-time premier Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (N) and Bilawal Zardari Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Pakistan authorities were moving at a snail’s pace on Friday to announce the election results that in a surprising development showed disqualified ex-prime minister Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf supported independent candidates leading the show.

Khan, 71, a cricketer-turned-politician and the founding chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), is behind bars and barred from contesting. PTI candidates are running as independents after they were not allowed to use the party symbol – a cricket bat.

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