South Asia

Pakistan’s ex-PM Sharif claims election victory, eyes coalition

ISLAMABAD — Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif declared victory in Pakistan’s national elections on Friday, stating his party, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), emerged as the largest and plans to form a coalition government after failing to secure a clear majority.

Sharif’s announcement followed the declaration of results from over three-quarters of the 265 seats, which took more than 24 hours after polls closed on Thursday.

The election was overshadowed by militant attacks resulting in 28 deaths.

Analysts had anticipated a close race, complicating the situation for a country already facing an economic crisis and increasing militant violence in a politically divided environment.

Independents, many backed by jailed ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan, secured the most seats — 92 of the 225 counted by 1600 GMT. The PML-N won 64 seats, while the Pakistan People’s Party, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of the late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, captured 50. Small parties and other independents claimed the remainder.

Sharif, 74, a three-time former premier, returned from a four-year self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom late last year. He had contested the last election from jail on a corruption conviction.