Nawaz Sharif declares victory in Pakistan election

Tuesday 14 May 2013 12.11
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Nawaz Sharif is leading in early counts of ballots
Nawaz Sharif is leading in early counts of ballots
Pakistanis streamed to the polls to vote in a historic election pitting a cricket star-turned-politician against an unpopular incumbent and a two-time prime minister
Pakistanis streamed to the polls to vote in a historic election pitting a cricket star-turned-politician against an unpopular incumbent and a two-time prime minister
Pakistanis are reported to be turning out in large numbers for the general election
Pakistanis are reported to be turning out in large numbers for the general election
The Vote is being watched closely by the US, which relies heavily on Pakistan for help fighting Islamic militants in the region
The Vote is being watched closely by the US, which relies heavily on Pakistan for help fighting Islamic militants in the region

Pakistan's Nawaz Sharif has declared victory in a jubilant speech to supporters as results from today's election showed a clear lead for his party, making it almost certain that he will become prime minister of the country for a third time.

The election, in which 86m people were eligible to vote, will bring the first transition between civilian governments in a country that has been ruled by the military for more than half of its turbulent history.

Despite pre-election violence and attacks today that killed at least 17 people, millions turned out to cast a ballot.

"Results are still coming in, but this much is confirmed: we're the single largest party so far," he declared to hoots of joy from the crowd.

"Please pray that by morning we're in a position that we don't need the crutch of coalition partners."

With the count continuing into the night, Mr Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) was leading in 119 of the 272 National Assembly seats that were contested.

Mr Sharif's lead means he is almost certain to become prime minister again, a triumphant return for a political leader who was ousted in a military coup in 1999, jailed and later exiled.

It remains to be seen, however, if his PML-N will have enough MPs to rule on its own or be forced to seek coalition allies, which could make it difficult to push reforms desperately needed to revive a near-failed economy.

The next government will have to contend with Taliban militancy, endemic corruption, chronic power cuts and crumbling infrastructure in the nuclear-armed country of 180m people.

One of the first likely tasks will be to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund for a multi-billion-dollar bailout.

Keywords: pakistan, election