Sharif stages comeback in landmark vote
ISLAMABAD (PAN): The Pakistan Muslim League-N, led by former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif, has emerged as the single largest political party in Saturday’s parliamentary elections, unofficial results suggested on Sunday.
Voters streamed to polling stations in droves to exercise their franchise right, defying threats of attacks from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan. At least 32 people were killed and scores wounded in nationwide bombings and clashes.
The turnout was around 60 percent, though confirmed official statistics were not immediately available, Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim told a late-night media briefing. He greeted the nation for what he called fair and transparent polls.
As the PML-N swept the polls in it bastion of Punjab, Imran Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaaf won the highest number of seats -- 20 -- in northwestern of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Sharif, widely seen as a protégé of ex-military dictator Gen. Ziaul Haq, is poised to form governments at the Centre and in Punjab.
Speaking to supporters in Lahore, the 63-year-old declared his success and signalled his willingness to work with all parties to resolve the country's problems. "I appeal to all to sit with me across the table so that this nation can get rid of power cuts, inflation and unemployment," he remarked.
A two-time premier, Sharif twice had his governments toppled by ex-president Ghulam Ishaq Khan and then army chief Gen. (R) Pervez Musharraf on corruption charges.
Awami National Party (ANP) stalwarts Asfandyar Wali Khan, Ghulam Ahmed Bilour and Mian Iftikhar Hussain were among the big losers. PML-N’s Amir Muqam and Mehtab Abbasi also suffered shock defeats.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) retained many seats in Sindh province, its tradition power base over the decades, while Mohajir Qaumi Movement candidates were declared victorious in the port city of Karachi.
Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, Ch. Pervaiz Elahi, Mehmood Khan Achakzai, Shah Mehmood Quraishi, Maulana Fazlur Rahman, Khurshid Shah, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad and former National Assembly speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza retained their seats.
In a string of attacks in Peshawar, Karachi and Quetta, 32 people were killed and more than 50 injured. But the overall security situation was not as bad as predicted, with 60,000 security personnel fanning out across the country.
The southwestern province of Balochistan, where the security situation remains fragile, once again saw a split mandate. The JUI-Fazl, BNP-Mengal and Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party of Achakzai fared well.
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