Imran Khan and his three wives

Arturo Kim
July 26, 2018

There was no official confirmation of results from Pakistan's election commission nearly 24 hours after polls closed in Wednesday's vote but partial, unofficial tallies showed Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party enjoying a clear lead.

As voting got under way on Wednesday in the south-western city of Quetta, the Baluchistan provincial capital, militants sent a suicide bomber to a crowded polling station to carry out a deadly attack that killed 31 people.

More than a dozen TV channels in Pakistan, based on official but partial counts, were projecting - using their own, undisclosed methodologies - that Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party is getting as many as 119 seats of the 270 National Assembly seats that were contested.

Mr Khan's party spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, showed confidence as the early projections were broadcast, saying in a tweet: "Congratulations to the nation on a new Pakistan!"

"If we have to make a coalition with either of the two main parties, then it means we can't bring about any major reforms", said Khan, who as captain led Pakistan to victory in the 1992 Cricket World Cup.

Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of Nawaz, told reporters in Lahore that the PML-N rejected the election results after its officials were kicked out of polling stations.

Whichever party wins, it will face a mounting and urgent in-tray, from a brewing economic crisis to worsening relations with on-off ally the United States to deepening cross-country water shortages. "I will make Pakistan a welfare state like Madina", added Khan.

The allegations were led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which was in second place in the National Assembly with a lead in 64 seats.

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Pakistan's former cricket star Imran Khan has claimed victory in his country's parliamentary elections.

He did not say who he believes could have rigged the polls, but allegations of manipulating the elections have been made against the country's influential military.

"It is unlikely that a prime minister Imran Khan will act decisively against jihadis, given his sympathy for their cause but miracles can happen", Haqqani said.

Khan, 65, has hailed Sharif's conviction on corruption charges this month as proof democracy is maturing in the nuclear-armed Muslim-majority nation of 208 million by finally holding its venal political elite accountable.

Before official results arrived, PTI and Khan supporters took to the streets to celebrate the initial results on Wednesday night. The ECP was also criticised for deploying the Army both inside and outside of polling stations.

But Yaqoob said the vote-counting system, which he said was untested, had "crashed", adding: "There is definitely no conspiracy, no one wants to influence the results". PTI has not ruled out seeking succor from China, Islamabad's closest ally.

But he was dogged by the accusations he was benefiting from a "silent coup" by the generals which targeted the PML-N. PML-N president and former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif, MMA chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, former opposition leader in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah and former Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah have also cast their votes in their respective constituencies.

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