Imran Khan claims victory in Pakistan elections

Imran Khan wants to create a 'New Pakistan,' many fear more of the same

The election has largely boiled down to a contest between former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Haqqani, who is with the Hudson Institute think-tank, said the result was unlikely to change anything in Pakistan, unless the military-led establishment decides to shutdown its "jihad business" and recognises it as the source of the country's isolation and economic difficulties. Images showed a smiling Khan with his ballot paper laid out in front of him as he marked the ballot.

In the provincial assembly constituencies, the PTI was leading on 60 seats; ANP on 10; MMA on six; PML-N and PPP on two each and independent candidates on four seats.

The PML-N - led by the former prime minister's younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif - was ahead in 64 seats.

Khan acknowledged while speaking to VOA on the eve of the election that the economy is the biggest challenge facing Pakistan.

The attacks have fuelled concerns that Pakistan may be losing ground on hard-fought security gains in recent years. He said his uncle was killed in the explosion.

"There was a deafening bang followed by thick cloud of smoke and dust and so much crying from the wounded people", he told The Associated Press.

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Khan has promised an "Islamic welfare state" and cast his populist campaign as a battle to topple a predatory political elite hindering development in the impoverished nation of 208 million, where the illiteracy rate hovers above 40 per cent.

He also assured that action will be taken against people found involved in rigging the elections. Voting in that constituency has been suspended.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) denied the claims, saying a new electronic results system suffered unexpected glitches.

The PML-N's electoral chances have also been shaken by Sharif's conviction in absentia earlier this month on corruption charges involving expensive properties he and his family held overseas.

Many believe the upcoming elections are a one-to-one contest between the two right-wing parties - PML-N and PTI - in Punjab. Later, more clashes between rival political parties killed another person and wounded 15 elsewhere in the country. Polling schemes were poorly rationalised, with many voters in the Lahore Cantonment, for instance, indicating they did not know where to go to vote. Several people have been injured in the firing incident. He has allied himself with extremist religious groups with ties to militancy.

The ECP has to ensure that the results are correct before releasing them. Pakistan in 1974 declared Ahmadis non-Muslims. Polling was halted at the polling station, only to resume later.

Against the 12 NA seats in the recently merged Federally Administered Tribal Agencies, the PTI was leading on five of the constituencies including two constituencies each in Khyber and Bajaur tribal regions and the last one in Mohmand region.

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"These elections were 100 percent fair and transparent", said Chief Election Commissioner Sardar Muhammad Raza early Thursday as the outcry grew.

"The new government is going to be in an unenviable position, and especially Imran Khan, as he is not the preferred prime minister for Pakistan's two traditional chief patrons, China and the USA", he said.

"We totally reject this result", he said. "It is the first time that women have come out of their homes to cast their vote".

But just hours after the counting began late Wednesday, Sharif's party alleged the election process was rigged and manipulated in favor of Khan.

Global and domestic election observers will monitor the voting.

Election observers including a mission from the European Union are due to give their own observations on the voting process on Friday.

The remainder in the 342-seat lower house of parliament included reserved seats for women and minorities.

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