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Imran Khan demands fresh general elections in Pakistan after impressive show in Punjab by-polls


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Imran Khan has demanded fresh general elections in Pakistan after his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party routed the ruling Pakistan Muslim League party in the crucial Punjab assembly by-polls, dealing a major blow to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif whose son Hamza Shehbaz is all set to lose his post as chief minister.

The election for the chief minister will be held on July 22 on the Supreme Court’s order and PTI-PMLQ joint candidate Chaudhary Parvez Elahi is likely to be the new chief minister of the politically crucial province Punjab.

According to unofficial results so far, the PTI has won 15 seats while the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of Sharif has just four. An independent candidate also won.

PTI chairman Khan in a tweet on Sunday thanked party workers and voters of Punjab for defeating, what he called, not just PML-N candidates, but the entire state machinery, especially harassment by police and a “totally biased” Election Commission of Pakistan.

He also thanked the PTI allies — PML-Q, Majlis-i-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) and Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC).

“The only way forward from here is to hold fair and free elections under a credible ECP. Any other path will only lead to greater political uncertainty and further economic chaos,” Khan, who was ousted as prime minister in April after he lost a confidence vote in Parliament, said.

PTI party’s senior leader Asad Umar said Khan would announce the party strategy after a meeting of the core committee on Monday.

To a question about whether Prime Minister Shehbaz would dissolve the National Assembly to call early general elections, he said: “The PML-N leadership will decide about it in consultation with its allies.” However, Prime Minister Shehbaz has said that Khan is unfit to hold public office.

“Every speech Imran Niazi delivers shows how unfit he is to hold public office. Under his direct supervision, the PTI has run a sordid campaign to defame national institutions & thus undermine Pakistan. He is rewriting Machiavellian principles of politics in his lust for power,” he tweeted on Sunday.

PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz also accepted her party’s defeat. “We should accept our defeat with an open heart,” the daughter of PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif said in a tweet.

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