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PAKISTANI former prime minister Nawaz Sharif claimed today that his party had won the most seats in the previous day’s general election, but not enough to form a government.
However, official results showed that independent candidates backed by imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan had taken a clear lead with a surprisingly high number of seats.
As the Morning Star went to press Mr Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) had won 59 National Assembly seats, while independent candidates had 86 seats of the 266 up for grabs in the lower house.
An additional 70 seats are reserved for women and minorities in the 336-seat legislature.
The BBC reported that 71 of the independent candidates were linked to Mr Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Mr Sharif asserted that the PML-N had “removed the country from difficult times before and we can do it again.”
He said he respected the mandate of the independent candidates and was inviting them to “sit with us,” adding that “all parties should get together to form a government.”
Mr Khan, a former cricket star turned politician, was disqualified from standing in Thursday’s election because he has criminal convictions.
He insists that the charges against him, along with more than 150 legal cases still pending, are politically motivated.
PTI candidates had to run as independents in the election after they were barred from using the party symbol, a cricket bat, to help illiterate voters identify them on ballot papers.
Party chairman Gohar Khan told Pakistani news channel Geo that a count by the PTI showed it winning 150 seats, enough to form a government, though 169 seats are required for a majority.
If confirmed by the final vote tally, that outcome would defy almost all pre-election predictions.
Observers had expected the PML-N to win and Mr Sharif to serve another term as prime minister, a position he last held in 2017.
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