Imran Khan may have early lead in Pakistan elections, unofficial results show

Imran Khan gives a live-televised address

Even former West Indies cricketer Ian Bishop congratulated Khan on achieving a new milestone in his life and hoped that he would lead with "integrity".

Pakistan went to polls on July 25 in the nation's second democratic transition of power ever in 70 years.

Electoral authorities said official results declaring an outright victor were not expected before late Thursday morning.

During the count, outgoing PML-N Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan tweeted that official result forms were not given at hundreds of polling stations, decrying what he called "blatant, callous, shameless rigging".

Imran Khan
Image Mr Khan is set to be Pakistan's new prime minister

"Claims of electing rigging occur after every election in Pakistan - but this time around, they will be harder to brush aside given the overt role the military has played", said Shamila Chaudhary, a former White House and State Department official who's now a fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Mushahid Hussain Sayed. "A great disservice has been done to Pakistan". Pakistan has a long history of the military getting involved in politics.

‏"I remember IK's 1st election in 1997- untested, idealistic & politically naive".

As voting got underway on Wednesday in the southwestern city of Quetta, the Baluchistan provincial capital, militants sent a suicide bomber to a crowding polling station to carry out a deadly attack that killed 31 people.

At an election rally to close his campaign on Monday, Khan dismissed the allegations as "a foreign conspiracy". Balochistan Awami Party was ahead of others in Balochistan.

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In addition, the election has been plagued by widespread allegations that the army was working behind the scenes to skew the contest in Khan's favor. The ex-prime minister has since been sentenced to 10 years in jail, which he is serving while appealing the conviction.

But despite the threat of violence and some public disenchantment over the allegations of rigging, at least half of the country's 106 million registered voters turned out to cast their ballots for the 272 parliamentary seats. "This is the resilience of this country and its people".

He urged people to vote, tweeting: "This is the first time in 4 decades the nation has a chance to defeat the entrenched status quo". Musharraf has also said that Khan has never voiced any discontentment against India.

Khan, whose appeal rests mainly on a fierce anti-corruption crusade, took the lead as the unofficial results started to come in on Wednesday night. PML-N president and former Punjab CM Shehbaz Sharif, MMA chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, former opposition leader in the National Assembly Khurshid Shah and former Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah have also cast their votes in their respective constituencies.

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Thousands of Khan's supporters took to the streets to celebrate in Islamabad as news of a possible victory emerged. "I chose to join politics 22 years back when I saw collapse of governance system and corruption in Pakistan", Imran Khan told the media in the evening. Khurshid Shah of PPP was quoted as saying, "Our polling agents were not given results and we will not accept it". "Now it's time to test out Imran".

The polls were guarded by police, troops and paramilitary rangers, after several attacks during the campaign killed more than 200 people.

Regardless of whether Mr Khan defeats the troubled Muslim League, some analysts predicted that neither party would win enough votes to form a government, leading to a period of weak coalition rule, or possibly a hung Parliament, with the military exercising more power behind the scenes.

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