General elections were held in Pakistan on Wednesday 25 July, after the completion of a five-year term by the outgoing government. At the national level, elections were held in 270 constituencies, each electing one member to the National Assembly. At the provincial level, elections were held in each of the four provinces to elect Members of the Provincial Assemblies (MPA).
Opinion polling had consistently shown leads for the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N) over the PTI. From a 11-point lead, the PML-N's lead began to diminish in the final weeks of the campaign, with some polls close to the election showing PTI with a lead. In the final result, the PTI made a net gain with 31.82% of the vote (its highest share of the vote since its foundation), whilst the PML-N made a net loss with 24.35%. In the lead-up to the elections, there had been allegations by some international journalists and scholars about pre-poll rigging being conducted by the judiciary, the military and the intelligence agencies to sway the election results in favour of the PTI and against the PML-N. Almost all parties, excluding Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, alleged large-scale vote rigging and administrative malpractices.
However, Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) outrightly rejected such reports and stated that elections were conducted fair and free. A top electoral watchdog, Free and Fair Election Network (Fafen), also said that the 2018 general elections in Pakistan have been “more transparent in some aspects” than the previous polls. The European Union Election Observation Mission said, in its preliminary report, that no rigging has been found during the election day in general, however, "lack of equality of opportunity" in the pre-election campaign, and there were systematic attempts to undermine the ruling party PML-N. The European Union assessed the conduct of polling on election day as "transparent".
During the election campaign, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by prominent cricketer turned politician Imran Khan, was widely expected to have huge success in the polls. The party fell short of these expectations, instead only taking 35 seats. It became the 3rd largest party in the National Assembly and formed a coalition government in the restive north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
PTI had initially conceded the elections to PML (N), although they asked for manual recounts to be carried out in several constituencies where rigging had been allegedly carried out. These calls were not answered by the government or the Supreme Court, despite a 2,100 page white paper by the party which allegedly contained evidence of vote-rigging in favour of the PML (N). An ‘Azadi March’ was started by Khan on 14 August 2014 which demanded the government to call a snap election. The sit-in in Islamabad continued for 126 days, until the 2014 Peshawar school massacre occurred, which forced Khan to end the protest for the sake of ‘national unity’. A judicial commission was formed by the government which would probe the allegations of vote-rigging: it found the election to have been largely conducted in a free and fair manner, while also stating that PTI's request for a probe was not "entirely unjustified".
Sharif refused to resign and instead make an unsuccessful attempt to form a judicial commission. The opposition leader Khan filed a petition to the Supreme Court of Pakistan on 29 August seeking the disqualification of Sharif from the premiership and as a member of the National Assembly. Political leaders Sheikh Rasheed and Siraj-ul-Haq also supported this petition. Khan called, once again, for his supporters to put Islamabad in lockdown until Sharif resigned, although this was called off soon before it was meant to take place.
On 20 April 2017, on a 3-2 verdict, the Supreme Court decided against the disqualification of Sharif, instead calling for a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to be created which would probe these allegations further.
On 10 July 2017, JIT submitted a 275-page report in the apex court. The report requested NAB to file a reference against Sharif, his daughter Maryam, and his sons under section 9 of National Accountability Ordinance. Additionally, the report claimed that his daughter Maryam was guilty of falsifying documents, as she submitted a document from 2006 which used the Calibri font despite the font itself not being available for public use until 2007.
Disqualification of Nawaz Sharif (2017)
On 28 July 2017, following the submittal of the JIT report, the Supreme Court unanimously decided that Sharif was dishonest, therefore not fulfilling the requirements of articles 62 and 63 of the constitution which require one who holds public office to be Sadiq and Ameen (Urdu for Truthful and Virtuous). Hence, he was disqualified as Prime Minister and as a Member of the National Assembly. The court also ordered National Accountability Bureau to file a reference against Sharif, his family and his former Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on corruption charges.
The 342 members of the National Assembly are elected by two methods in three categories; 272 are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting; 60 are reserved for females and 10 for religious minority groups; both sets of reserved seats use proportional representation with a 5% electoral threshold. This proportional number, however, is based on the number of seats won rather than votes cast. To win a simple majority, a party would have to take 137 seats.
The 2018 General Elections were held under new delimitation of constituencies as a result of 2017 Census of Pakistan.Parliament of Pakistan amended the Constitution, allowing a one-time exemption for redrawing constituency boundaries using 2017 provisional census results. As per the notification issued on 5 March 2018, the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) now has three constituencies, Punjab 141, Sindh 61, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 39, Balochistan 16 and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) has 12 constituencies in the National Assembly. 106 million people were registered to vote for members of the National Assembly of Pakistan and four Provincial Assemblies.
Likewise for elections to provincial assemblies, Punjab has 297 constituencies, Sindh 130, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 99 and Balochistan 51.
Following the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif, several by-elections were held throughout Pakistan.
Lahore by-election, September 2017
The first of these was the by-election in Sharif’s former constituency, NA-120 Lahore, which is located in the capital city of the Punjab province, a province where the PML (N) was the ruling party. It retained this seat, albeit with a much reduced majority due to gains by the PTI and minor Islamist parties.
Peshawar by-election, October 2017
The second of these was a by election in Peshawar, capital city of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf| was the ruling party. NA-4 once again voted for PTI, despite a reduced majority: once again mainly due to the rise of Islamist parties. These by-elections largely were largely seen as indicators that the ruling parties in both Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab were still electorally strong.
In a previous by-election in this constituency in 2015, Tareen won this seat with a majority in excess of 35,000 votes. Therefore, this seat was seen as a stronghold for the PTI.
In what was seen as an upset result, Iqbal Shah of the PML (N) won this by-election with a majority over 25,000 votes against Jahangir Tareen’s son, Ali Tareen. Many saw this as a failure on the PTI’s behalf, and the result led to a drop in morale for PTI workers.
Pakistan Muslim League – N
Pakistan Muslim League – N launched its election campaign on 25 June 2018 from Karachi. On 5 July 2018, PMLN unvieled its election manifesto.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf started its election campaign on 24 June 2018 from Mianwali. On 9 July 2018, Imran Khan launched PTI's election manifesto. On 23 July 2018, PTI concluded its electioneering with rallies in Lahore.
Pakistan Peoples Party
On 28 June 2018, PPP became the first political party to unviel its election manifesto. PPP kicked off its election campaign on 30 June 2018, as Bilawal inaugurated their election office in Lyari, Karachi.
The assemblies dissolved during the holy month of Ramadan, a month where Muslims worldwide refrain from eating or drinking from sunrise to sundown. Hence, most major parties did not start campaigning until late June.
On 4 June, parties and individuals started filing nomination papers for the elections. This process continued until 8 June. After this, the returning officer in each constituency began scrutiny of the nominated candidates and decided whether or not to accept the nomination papers.
Additionally, politicians Fawad Chaudhry (Information Secretary of PTI) and Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (former Prime Minister) were disqualified from contesting these elections by election tribunals due to the non declaration of assets in their nomination papers. This was controversial because election tribunals were seen as not having the jurisdiction to disqualify candidates, rather only to accept or reject their nomination papers. The Lahore High Court eventually overturned these judgements and allowed the respective candidates to contest their elections. Two major politicians of Tehreek-e-Insaf from Chakwal, Sardar Ghulam Abbas and Sardar Aftab Akbar Khan were disqualified to contest elections producing major problem in Chakwal district for the party.
Each coloured line specifies a political party and how strong their voting intention is nationwide for the National Assembly, based on a 3-point moving average. Parties which poll below 10% are not shown.
*Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal is an alliance of Islamist political parties, formed in 2002 and dissolved after the 2008 elections. The restoration of this alliance occurred in December 2017. Polls conducted before the restoration show the sum for Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (F), the major political party in this alliance.
There were 272 national and 577 provincial assembly constituencies, contested by over 3,600 and 8,800 candidates respectively. A total of 811,491 staff were deployed for election duties as presiding officers, assistant presiding officers, and polling officers, in addition to 371,000 armed forces personnel who provided security duties alongside police and other law enforcement agencies. There were 85,317 polling stations set up, comprising over 242,000 polling booths.
On 12 July, a spokesperson for former Member of National Assembly Alhaj Shah Jee Gul Afridi was killed and another citizen was injured after unidentified men opened fire at the spokesperson's car in Peshawar. On the same day, the Balochistan Awami Party (BAP)'s office in Khuzdar came under gunfire before a bomb detonated injuring 2 people.
On 22 July, PTI's candidate for constituency PK-99 Ikramullah Gandapur and his driver were killed after a suicide bomber blew himself near his car as he was headed towards a corner meeting in the outskirts of Dera Ismail Khan. The same day, unknown gunmen opened fires on the vehicle of Durrani in Bannu. No one was hurt during firing as the vehicle was bulletproof. This was second unsuccessful attempt to assassinate Durrani and third terrorist incident in the city in the span of two weeks.
On 25 July, during polling in Quetta, a bomb went off which resulted in 31 people being killed and 35 injured.
In Swabi, a city in the northern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, one person was killed and three injured after PTI supporters exchanged fire with those from the secularist Awami National Party (ANP).
At least three other people were injured in a grenade attack outside a polling station in Larkana, in the southern province of Sindh.
In Khanewal, a man was shot dead and another one was injured in a political clash. Several more people were injured in 7 other incidents.
Allegations of election meddling
There have been allegations by some international journalists and scholars, claiming that there was a plan between judiciary and military bodies to influence the outcome of the election. These allegations were also made by the outgoing PML-N following Nawaz Sharif's disqualification for corruption. It was suggested that alleged goal of these attempts was to halt the party of Nawaz Sharif from coming into power and to bring the results in favor of PTI, so that Imran Khan – who is alleged as close to the military – can be installed as the prime minister. Khan has denied these allegations as a "foreign conspiracy" and "against the facts" , while the military also categorically rejected them. There have been claims of PML (N)'s campaign material being ripped apart by authorities while leaving alone material belonging to PTI. There have been suggestions that candidates belonging to PML (N) have been coerced by ISI to switch to those parties whose future government can be better controlled by military. On the last day of scrutiny of nomination papers, seven PML (N) candidates from Southern Punjab returned their tickets leaving no option for PML (N) to field replacement candidates, depriving them an opportunity to win those seats. There have also been reports of election engineering by army and intelligence agencies in Balochistan province in favor of Balochistan Awami Party.
Reports further suggested that there was evidence of collusion between the judiciary and military, in that two military officials were appointed to the Joint Investigation Team to investigate corruption allegations against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, which were further strengthened by the circumstances of the Avenfield case verdict against the Sharifs. Justice Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui, an Islamabad High Court senior justice, released a statement on 22 July alleging that judges were pressured by ISI not to release Sharif before the election. However, he provided no evidence and was at the time facing corruption and misconduct charges pending at the Supreme Judicial Council, leading to rumours about the timing of his statement. Pakistan's Chief Justice Saqib Nisar said he felt "saddened" at Siddiqui's comments, and whilst criticising them, stated that "as the head of judiciary, I assure you that we are not under any sort of pressure". There have been allegations that the micromanagement of political parties and the censorship of the newspapers, social media and TV channels is to further influence the election result. An official from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan stated that "The level of army interference and political engineering is unprecedented." Another institution, the National Accountability Bureau has been described as being used by military intelligence agencies, including ISI, to bring politicians in line by threatening to bring corruption cases against them. Due to interference by military and intelligence agencies, The Financial Times described these elections as "the dirtiest in years".
Furthermore, the EU observer mission released their report after the election stating that there were "systematic attempts to undermine the ruling party", "lack of equality of opportunity", pressure on the media, far stronger efforts than usual to encourage switching parties and judicial conduct had all negatively influenced the vote.
Some of these allegations have also been made by certain political parties and figures more prominently by PML (N). Among the politicians, Farhatullah Babar has been very vocal against the election meddling by military describing it as a "creeping coup against civilian authority".Raza Rabbani also leveled same allegations including the Election Commission of Pakistan, National Accountability Bureau and security agencies as the culprit behind pre-poll rigging.
Almost all political parties, with the exception of PTI, have alleged large scale election day rigging. The winning PTI have alleged rigging in some constituencies as well. Doubts were raised by unprecedented delays in the declaration of results. The fairness of the election was also criticized due to the Election Commission's failure to provide Form 45s, official forms which include the tally of votes and are prepared in the presence of political agents of all the candidates. Party leaders alleged that their representatives were barred from polling stations before counting began and the Form 45s were prepared in their absence and behind closed doors. In some instances, the representatives were given results on plain paper instead of official forms. In another instance, the presiding officer signed blank forms, allowing the possibility of results being manipulated afterwards. Independent candidate Jibran Nasir also made similar allegations. There was also an incident of seven people being arrested for alleged vote rigging in Karachi. According to FAFEN observer Sarwar Bari, "Only one polling agent of every party is allowed when Form 45 is given out by the polling staff, so we can’t rule out the fact that it could be a misunderstanding." A few days after the election, in the NA-241 (Korangi Karachi-III) constituency, ballots cast for candidates of PML (N), PPP, and MQM-P were found in a garbage heap. A PTI candidate won the election in that constituency.
Chairman of winning party Imran Khan pledged that he will allow to open any constituency his opponents think are rigged, he said that opposition has full right into recounting or accountability over election process to ensure transparency.
The Free and Fair Election Network, an election watchdog, said the 2018 polls were "more transparent" in some aspects than the previous elections and that "significant improvements in the quality of critical electoral processes" inspired "greater public confidence". According to former Indian Chief Election Commissioner S. Y. Quraishi, a member of the international observers group in Pakistan, the election system was transparent, free and fair, and the minor technical glitches which showed up later in the day were due to inexperience.
On 12 August 2018, it was reported that 90% of Form-45s were not signed by any polling agent, which is a violation of Election Act 2017. However, an ECP spokesperson clarified the discrepancy by stating that there was no designated space on the Form-45s to obtain the signatures of polling agents. The signatures were instead done on tamper-evident bags that were used to transport the results. For the transparency reasons and to combat controversy surrounding form 45, election commission of Pakistan published all form 45 publicly on their website.
Despite rejecting the results of the election due to alleged rigging, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) made the decision to take oath in the elected assemblies for the sake of democracy, conceding that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Imran Khan was likely to be the Prime Minister. Hence, the government formation at the federal level was left to the PTI alone.
On 28 July, PML (Q) pledged its support to PTI’s candidates for Chief Minister of Punjab, making it unlikely to oppose PTI in the National Assembly. On 31 July, Balochistan Awami Party announced its support for a PTI led federal government.
On 1 August, Muttahida Qaumi Movement was told by the PPP that it had to choose between sitting in a coalition with them in Sindh or sitting in a coalition with PTI in the centre. On the same day, MQM-P convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui announced the party’s six MNAs would lend their support to the PTI in the National Assembly.
On 2 August, Pakistan Muslim League (N), Pakistan Peoples Party, Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and Awami National Party announced to form a “Grand Opposition Alliance” whereby the Speaker, Prime Minister and other key posts would be jointly nominated and elected. The Speakership would be given to the PPP, the Deputy Speakership to the MMA and the Premiership to the PML-N. However, on 16 August, after the elections for speaker, PPP decided to withdraw their support for Shehbaz Sharif for the post of Prime Minister, owing to previous statements made by the individual about the party’s co-chairman and ex-President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari.
PTI chairman Imran Khan also addressed the allegations in his first national address and said that he would be willing to look into any allegations of rigging. He also added that he thought that the elections were the "cleanest in Pakistan's history."
Celebrations across Pakistan also erupted as early results indicated a win for Tehreek-e-Insaf. Khan's fellow cricketers and celebrities took to Twitter in celebration of his assumed victory even before election results were finalized or a government formed.
The Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) reacted positively and opened 2% higher as the prospect of a hung government dissipated. The KSE index closed 749 points higher on Thursday. On 3 July 2018, the benchmark KSE-100 index gained 314 points to reach 43,100 points. It closed up 770 points at 43,556 points. The US dollar shed Rs5.36 against the rupee in the inter-bank market for the first time in four years, falling to Rs122.5. The positive economic indicators are considered to be largely driven by what investors consider the return of political stability following the 25 July polls.
United Nations – United Nations spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric did not acknowledge the results of the election, he commended the Electoral Commission for their organizational efforts, "noting positive initiatives related to training and efforts to enhance the inclusion of women, persons with disabilities and other marginalized groups, as well as first-time voters, in the electoral process."
European Union – The European Union’s monitoring delegate Michael Gahler said, "Our overall assessment of the election process is that it is not as good as in 2013... [but] the election results are credible." Gahler particularly criticized the ill-treatment given to the former ruling party and threats against the press from the various campaigns.Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan Jean Francois Cautain congratulated Khan on his party's recent electoral victory and assured the PM-in-waiting that the EU is keen to work with his government. Cautain said, "We are ready to collaborate in the fields of security, economy, education and rural development. We will assist the newly elected government in securing investments from EU's member countries as we wish to see stability and development in Pakistan. The EU is also ready to help Pakistan escape the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force." He further added, "The EU also does not have any objections to the Iran–Pakistan gas pipeline project."
Afghanistan – President of AfghanistanAshraf Ghani congratulated Khan and wrote, "I just spoke to Imran Khan and congratulated him on the victory in parliamentary elections. We both agreed to overcome the past and to lay a new foundation for a prosperous political, social and economic future of both countries." He also invited Khan to visit Kabul and Khan has accepted the invitation.
Canada – Canada’s High Commissioner in Pakistan issued the statement on the elections in Pakistan, “We congratulate the millions of Pakistani citizens who exercised their democratic rights by casting votes in the National Assembly and Provincial Assembly elections on July 25. The participation of tens of millions of voters is a testament to the strong democratic convictions of the people of Pakistan. We are saddened by the incidents of violence which occurred on July 25 and in the lead-up to the election, resulting in significant loss of life. Canada condemns these senseless acts and vicious attacks on democracy and conveys its condolences to the families of those whose lives were lost, as well as those injured."
China – The spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of ChinaGeng Shuang expressed pleasure for smooth completion of the general election and congratulated Imran Khan. At the regular press conference, he said, “China welcomes the smooth completion of the general election in Pakistan and congratulates the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led by Mr. Imran Khan for winning this election. We are willing to work together with the new Pakistani government to push China-Pakistan all-weather strategic partnership to a new level.”
France – Spokesperson of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs issued the statement, "France welcomes the mobilization of the Pakistani people, who went to the polls to exercise their electoral rights despite calls from extremist groups and incidents during the electoral process, which will be detailed in the final report of the Election Observation Mission of the European Union. We strongly condemn the violence that has bereaved the electoral process, including the attacks in Mastung and Quetta, and express our condolences to the families of the victims. France congratulates the future leaders of the country and stands ready to start constructive relations with the government which will be chosen by the parliament. This election marks, for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the second consecutive transfer of power between two democratically elected governments. It constitutes a new step in the strengthening of democracy in Pakistan. France will stand alongside Pakistan in the continuation of this process, as well as support the economic and social development of the country."
Germany – Government of Germany commended the 25 July general election held in Pakistan, saying it was "ready to work closely and confidently" with the new leadership. In a statement, the German Foreign Office spokesperson said, "Our country looks forward to [assisting] them in accomplishing these tasks. Germany understands that the new government will face great challenges that include improving the living conditions of all Pakistanis, combating corruption, and strengthening regional stability. Germany stands by and ready to work closely and confidently with the new Pakistani government and to assist them in accomplishing these task," referring to the newly-elected Pakistani government.
India – Prime MinisterNarendra Modi telephoned Khan and congratulated him over his party's success in the general elections and expressed hope that the democracy will take deeper roots in Pakistan, and reiterated his vision of peace and development in the entire neighborhood.Indian Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar expressed hope for better bilateral relations with Pakistan and said, "India desires a prosperous and progressive Pakistan at peace with its neighbors. We hope that the new Government of Pakistan will work constructively to build a safe, stable, secure and developed South Asia free of terror and violence." India’s Foreign Affairs Ministry did not directly comment on Khan’s call for talks, but said it welcomed that “the people of Pakistan have reposed their faith in democracy through general elections”.
Iran – Iranian PresidentHassan Rouhani extended his sincere congratulations to Imran Khan on his election as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan and expressed hope that the two countries would further improve relations during his tenure. In his congratulatory message to Imran, Rouhani said that the Islamic Republic of Iran as always and particularly during the new era expresses its readiness to expand relations and cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The Iranian president said that Imran Khan’s election is the result of willpower of the brave Pakistani nation.Iran’s ambassador to Pakistan Mehdi Honardoost congratulated Khan on winning the general elections, and expressed to enhance cooperation with the government-in-waiting. He said in a letter written to Khan, "People of Pakistan have demonstrated their desire to achieve progress and development by turning up in large numbers and using their right of franchise in the 25 July polls."
Japan – Government of Japan congratulated Imran Khan and his political party on victory in the general election 2018. The government expressed hopes that the relations between the two countries will get better with the new Pakistani leadership in place and that Imran’s government will continue to work on deals between the two countries.
Maldives – President of MaldivesAbdulla Yameen telephoned Khan and felicitated him on his success in the general elections, and expressed his best wishes for him. The Prime Minister-designate Imran Khan thanked the President of Maldives.
Nepal – Prime Minister of NepalKhadga Prasad Oli, sent a message of congratulations to Imran Khan on his assumption of the high office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan.In the message, Prime Minister Oli has recalled friendly relations between Nepal and Pakistan and has wished for successful tenure of the newly elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.Prime Minister Oli has also expressed hope that bilateral relations between Nepal and Pakistan will be further strengthened during the tenure of Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Qatar – Qatar’s EmirSheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani telephoned PTI Chairman Imran Khan and congratulated him on election win. Extending an invitation to the prime minister-in-waiting to visit Qatar, Sheikh Tamim expressed his desire to expand ties with the incoming government in Pakistan. Khan, on his part, said that Pakistan accords great respect to its ties with Qatar and expressed the hope that the two governments would work to improve the bilateral relationship.
Russia – Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Alexey Dedov called on Prime Minister-in-waiting and Chairman PTI Imran Khan in Bani Gala and congratulated him on the victory in elections 2018. The Russian Ambassador expressed desire to further enhance cooperation between Pakistan and Russia.
Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Pakistan Nawaf bin Said Al-Malki met Imran Khan and congratulated him. Talking about Khan’s speech he termed it as “comprehensive and positive.” Ambassador said that the Saudi Crown Prince would visit Pakistan soon after Imran Khan takes the oath and the transition to the new government, and put in place a new stronger bilateral relationship between the two countries.
Turkey – President of TurkeyRecep Tayyip Erdoğan telephoned Khan and congratulated him on his victory. He also offered his well wishes to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and expressed hope for the future government. During the telephonic exchange, the two leaders exchanged the hope for the beginning of a positive chapter in the bilateral relations.
United Arab Emirates – United Arab Emirates Ambassador Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al Zaabi called on Imran Khan at his Bani Gala residence and congratulated him for his party’s victory in the parliamentary elections. The two sides also touched on the political and bilateral ties between the two friendly countries.
United Kingdom – Foreign SecretaryJeremy Hunt congratulated "the millions of voters who participated in Pakistan’s elections" in spite of terrorism, calling it an "important moment for democracy in Pakistan". Hunt also expressed concern about the reports of "pressure on the media" and the number of parties "who preach violence and intolerance". He also wished for a successful transition, adding that he hopes that all sides will "resolve any disputed results peacefully and in accordance with Pakistan’s electoral laws."
United States – The Trump administration and the US State Department, which had no election observers on the ground mainly due to security concerns, refused to confirm that the elections were free and fair, and the State Department "expressed concern over reports regarding limits on freedom of expression before the polls". It added that the United States will look for opportunities to work with the new government "to advance our goals of security, stability, and prosperity in South Asia". State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert congratulated the Pakistani people, especially the women, for having the courage to vote in view of the violent circumstances surrounding the election.