Khan, Sharif Ahead In Election Count

ISLAMABAD: The parties of Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan appeared to be well ahead of their rivals in Pakistan’s election, according to a partial count of votes cast on Saturday.

The partial count showed that while Sharif was in the lead, his party could lose 15 of its seats in the critical province of Punjab to Khan, whose emergence on the political stage has up-ended a system dominated by two parties.

Television channels showed Khan’s party was ahead in more than 50 of the 272 seats in the election.

Khan, Pakistan’s best-known sportsman is seen by many as a refreshing change from the dynastic politicians who long relied on a patronage system to win votes.

Khan’s PTI appeals mostly to young, urban voters because of his calls for an end to corruption, a new political landscape and a halt to US drone strikes on Pakistani soil.

About one-third of the country’s population is under the age of 30.

Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), looked set to win the most seats in parliament but Khan could deprive it of a majority and dash Sharif’s hopes of a return to power 14 years after he was ousted in a military coup, jailed and later exiled.

The strong performance of Sharif and Khan will likely deal a blow to the outgoing Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), placing it third.

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