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Imprisoned Imran Khan rules out alliance with rivals to rule Pakistan

Imprisoned Imran Khan rules out alliance with rivals to rule Pakistan

 


Supporters of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party block the highway linking Peshawar to Islambad as they protest against the alleged distortion of Pakistan's national election results, in Peshawar, February 12, 2024. (Photo by Abdul Majeed / AFP)

Islamabad: Jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday ruled out any alliance with Pakistan's two largest political parties after his candidates won the most seats in last week's general elections.

Candidates loyal to Khan defied a crackdown that prevented them from campaigning and forced them to run as independents, with combined results higher than any party in National Assembly polls on Thursday.

The upheaval prevented the military-backed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) from gaining a ruling majority.

Speaking in Adiala prison – where he has spent much of his time since his arrest in August – Khan accused both the PML-N and the second-placed Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of corruption .

“We will not sit with either the PML-N or the PPP,” he told a handful of journalists covering a procedural hearing at the prison outside the capital Islamabad.

There were widespread allegations of electoral fraud and manipulation of results after authorities cut off the country's mobile phone network on election day and counting lasted more than 24 hours.

“We will challenge the election rigging in the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and we will examine the alliance later,” Khan said, clutching a prayer rosary.

The remarks are among the first Khan to make publicly since the poll five days ago proved a boon for his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, despite it being effectively dismantled.

Khan was ousted by a vote of no confidence in 2022 and subsequently led an unprecedented campaign of defiance against the country's military kingmakers.

He was buried under dozens of trials, convicted numerous times and banned from running for office – all of which, he says, was orchestrated to prevent his return to power.

Top PTI leaders were subject to mass arrests and the party was blocked from appearing on the ballot in a crackdown that analysts say was planned by the military establishment.

Independents loyal to Khan still won about 90 of the 266 elected seats in Pakistan's parliament, but the PTI insists its results would have been much higher without rigging.

The PTI has largely focused on contesting the legitimacy of the vote, rather than engaging with other parties.

The PML-N and the PPP are meanwhile engaged in negotiations to join the government together. The parties had already formed a broad coalition to oust Khan two years ago.

“Once a decision is taken, the nation will be informed,” PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday. “We must move forward in the national interest.”

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