Pakistan elections,Imran Khan,Tehreek-e-Insaf

The vote is proving to be a close fight between Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), led by jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

Pakistan is willing to improve its ties with India, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan said on Thursday, asserting that the blame game between the two neighbours, detrimental to the sub-continent, should stop.

"We were successful and we were given a mandate", Mr Khan said.

Imran also shared, "We want to set an example that the law will be supreme".

The most populous province of Punjab - which has 141 out of the 272 directly elected seats in the National Assembly - is a key battleground, analysts have said.

Shortly before Sharif spoke around midnight, state television said that just one fifth of the votes had been counted so far - an unusually slow count that further fueled suspicions of rigging.

Terming GE 2018 "historic elections" and paying tribute to unrivalled sacrifices tendered by the courageous people of Balochistan, Khan paid tribute to all martyred political leaders including Haroom Balor and Akram Gandapur and security personnel on transparent elections while foreseeing extension of democratic process in the country.

In other areas, it said, "polling staff appeared to be biased toward a certain party", without naming the party.

If Khan's lead holds, his party will likely be able to form a government with smaller parties and independents, avoiding the prospect of weeks of haggling.

Neither Khan nor the military, which had been accused of seeking to manipulate the vote in his favour in the months leading up to the polls, have yet commented on the situation.

The PML-N - led by the former prime minister's younger brother, Shahbaz Sharif - was ahead in 64 seats. The main contest is expected to be between three mainstream political parties and a five-party religious alliance. After consulting them, I will announce the future course of action. Party president Shehbaz Sharif called a press conference at about midnight in Lahore.

In a village near the northwestern city of Sawabi, Pakistani police said a shooting between supporters of two opposing political parties left one person dead and wounded two people. No statement has been issued by Khan.

As voters crowded the polling station in the National Assembly elections, the bomber blew himself up, killing at least 31 people and wounding at least 35. The ECP rejected the "blatant" rigging allegations.

On Wednesday, video images of a smiling Khan marking his ballot landed him in trouble with the country's Election Commission. It claims that the electronic result transmission system collapsed, preventing the uploading of the results.

The PPP managed to maintain its stronghold in the Sindh Assembly and should lead the provincial government. The PTI was leading on 60 seats in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

The Americans will be particularly concerned about the outcome of the election, given that Khan famously said he would order the Pakistani military to shoot down American drones if he came to power, and advocated negotiations with Pakistani Taliban fighters rather than military operations against them.

He characterized his campaign as a battle against political elites - dominated by long-established parties like the PML-N and PPP - that he accuses of hindering economic development in the impoverished country of 208 million.

If that is the case, it would only mean more political power for a military that directly ruled Pakistan for nearly half its history and already has a significant role in foreign and national security policymaking.

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