Pakistan ex-PM Khan's lawmakers denied reserved parliament seats as Sharif sworn in

Pakistan ex-PM Khan's lawmakers denied reserved parliament seats as Sharif sworn in
The verdict from the Election Commission of Pakistan on Khan's party comes following claims that the election was rigged.
2 min read
The verdict came alongside the swearing in of Pakistan's new PM Shehbaz Sharif [Photo by -/Pakistan President House/AFP via Getty Images]

Pakistan's election commission on Monday blocked lawmakers loyal to jailed ex-prime minister Imran Khan from taking a share of parliamentary seats reserved for women and minorities, after a poll marred by rigging claims.

The decision was published shortly after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif - who helped oust Khan in 2022 - was officially sworn in as premier at a ceremony in the capital.

In Pakistan's National Assembly of 336 lawmakers, there are 70 seats reserved for women and non-Muslims, assigned to parties proportionally according to their success at the polls.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was targeted by a military-backed crackdown ahead of the February 8 vote with rallies banned, leadership arrested and campaigning censored.

Candidates were allowed only to run as independents, forcing them to join little-known party, the Sunni Ittehad Council in a bid to recover their ratio of reserved seats.

"Mere joining/inclusion of a political party by independent returned candidates cannot accrue the right to claim for the quota for the reserved seats," the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said in a statement.

The party said it would challenge the decision in court.

Khan's followers secured more seats than any other party.

But their numbers fall far short of the majority needed to form a government, even if they had secured reserved seats.

PTI claim the election was brazenly rigged to prevent their landslide victory.

Sharif and his army-backed Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz have formed a coalition government with historic rivals, the Pakistan Peoples Party and several smaller factions.

PTI continues to face censorship, with opposition leader Omar Ayub Khan's speech in the National Assembly cut from state television on Sunday.