PML-N leads in Pak vote, Sharif set to be PM
Nawaz Sharif was on Friday set for a third term as Pakistan’s Prime Minister as his PML-N party took a massive lead over its rivals in the General Election, according to provisional results from across the country.
Trends from some 250 of the 272 parliamentary seats that went to the polls showed that the PML-N was set to bag in excess of 110 seats, while the Pakistan People Party and Imran Khan’s Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan were lagging far behind with about 35 seats each.
Addressing a group of jubilant supporters at his home in Lahore, Sharif proclaimed victory for the PML-N and asked people to pray that the final results, expected to be announced on Sunday, would show an “absolute majority” for his party so that he would not have to lead a weak coalition.
“The results are still coming in but we almost have confirmation about one thing — that the PML-N has emerged the largest party in this election.
“I ask you to pray that the results that come in the morning will show that the PML-N can form government without outside support, so that the PML-N doesn’t have to seek support from anyone,” he said.
Sharif vowed to deliver on all the promises he had made during the campaign, including pledges to end crippling power cuts, set right the economy and to counter corruption. “Our agenda and programme is to change the condition of the people. We should decide to change our condition because God only helps those who decide to help themselves,” he said.
The two-time former premier also struck a conciliatory note, appealing to all parties to sit together with the PML-N to find ways to tackle Pakistan’s pressing problems.
In remarks apparently aimed at Imran Khan, who had launched personal attacks on PML-N leaders during the campaign, Sharif said: “I never abused anyone but I forgive those who abused us”.
The PML-N’s strong performance will make it possible for Sharif to form government at the Centre with the backing of independent candidates and smaller right wing parties like the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, analysts said.
Sources said the PML-N would also not be averse to working with the PPP after forming government as the party’s leaders were not keen on an alliance with Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf. To win a simple majority, a party or coalition would have to bag 137 of the 272 National Assembly seats for which polls were held.
Another 70 seats, reserved for women and non-Muslims, will be allocated to parties according to their performance in polls. To have a majority 342-member National Assembly, a party or coalition would need 172 seats.
Sharif, 63, served as premier during 1990-1993 and 1997-1999 but was ousted from office before he could complete his term - once on corruption charges and later because of a military coup led by Pervez Musharraf.
After being deposed in 1999, he was jailed and sent into exile to Saudi Arabia.
He returned to Pakistan shortly before the 2008 polls and rebuilt his party, which has also returned to power in Punjab.
The PML-N was returned to power at the national level after millions of Pakistanis braved Taliban threats and violence that claimed 24 lives to vote in the landmark elections that marked the first transition from one civilian government to another in the country’s 66-year history.
The Election Commission extended polling by an hour to accommodate large numbers of voters who were still present at polling stations and officials said they expected the turnout to be around 60 per cent. The turnout remained strong throughout the day despite a string of gun and bomb attacks in Karachi, the country’s largest city, and across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces.
Pak poll: The big picture
To win a simple majority, a party or coalition would need 137 of the 272 National Assembly seats
Punjab, Sharif’s stronghold, alone accounts for 148 seats out of 272
Another 70 seats, reserved for women and non-Muslims, will be allocated to parties as per their election performance
To have a majority in the 342-member (272+70) National Assembly, a party or coalition needs 172 seats
Trends from 250-odd seats showed that the PML-N was set to bag in excess of 110 seats, while PPP and PTI were lagging far behind with about 35 seats each
PML-N victory will hand Nawaz Sharif a historic third term as Prime Minister