Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared victory in national elections on Friday, saying his party has emerged as the largest and would talk to other groups to form a coalition government as it had failed to win a clear majority on its own.
Sharif’s announcement came after more than three-quarters of the 265 seats had declared results, more than 24 hours after polling ended on Thursday, marred by the deaths of 28 people in militant attacks.
Analysts had predicted there may be no clear winner, adding to the woes of a country struggling to recover from an economic crisis while it grapples with rising militant violence in a deeply polarised political environment.
The results showed independents, most of them backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, had won the most seats – 92 of the 225 counted by 1600 GMT.
Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) won 64 while the Pakistan People’s Party of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated premier Benazir Bhutto, got 50.
The rest were won by small parties and other independents.
“Pakistan Muslim League is the single-largest party in the country today after the elections and it is our duty to bring this country out of the whirlpool,” Sharif told a press conference in the eastern city of Lahore.
“Whoever has got the mandate, whether independents or parties, we respect the mandate they have got,” he said. “We invite them to sit with us and help this wounded nation get back on its feet.”