LAHORE/Islamabad

Well, well, well. After much anxiety and wholesale nail-biting, it turned out to be the PML-N’s day; a historic moment which has elevated Nawaz Sharif to the throne of Prime Minister for a third time.

After unofficial results showed his party leading on the National Assembly seats, Nawaz Sharif delivered a victory speech Saturday night and invited all the political parties to join hands to steer the country out of all the crises. The PML-N chief said his opponents abused him and his companions much. “I forgive them all and forget what they had said,” Nawaz said amid loud slogans by charged party workers and supporters.

PTI chief Imran Khan reportedly conceded defeat on the national level to the party of Nawaz, but he said his team would form the next government in the terror-hit north-westernprovinceofKhyber Pakhtunkhwaand fix the troubles there. By the time of going to press, the PTI was leading in the KPK on most seats.

Despite grave threats of terrorism, people swarmed the polling satiations to elect their future leaders. With 65 percent turnout, the polls were a huge success for a country beleaguered by a plethora of problems; though around 53 people lost their lives in terror attacks in different parts of the country. Voting in the county’s financial hubKarachiwas marred by allegations of rigging from rival parties.

The result brought a previously non-entity,PakistanTehreek-i-Insaf of Imran, to the centre stage as PTI vied with the outgoing ruling PPP for emerging as the second largest national party and the leading party in KPK. It also represented a remarkable comeback for Nawaz, who was deposed as premier in a 1999 military coup and came after millions of people defied polling day attacks that left 24 dead to participate in the high-turnout vote.

As unofficial partial results put him on course to win, Nawaz, flanked by his younger brother Shahbaz Sharif, daughter Maryam Nawaz and others, told a huge gathering of his supporters that he was committed to serve the nation and he will fulfil all promises he made to the people.

Pointing out that the election results were still coming out, he asked the masses to pray that his party gets as many seats as it could to form a federal government without any ‘crutches’. A government formed with the support of others, he said, remains weak; “so, pray for the absolute majority to the PML-N”.

He said his party has one point agenda i.e. service to the masses and changing fate of the nation. He said even Allah does not change the fate, unless ‘we ourselves decide’ to get it changed. “We have to make the country stand on its feet, give it respect and ensure its safety.” Nawaz said the people love him and he loves them too in the same way.

Nawaz Sharif said he will fulfil all promises made to the youth as what he committed to them during his campaign was not meant to seek their vote but was out of sincerity and commitment of purpose. He said if the parents of the youth will be pleased and happy, he would feel pleased and happy as well and his immediate focus would be on making good what he promised to them.

Quoting the injured captain of his party, PTI leader Assad Omar told a private TV channel that they will form the next government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “For Tehreek-e-Insaf it is a big day, a golden day... A party which has no existence in parliament has emerged the second largest national party and the leading party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where, God willing, it is going to form a government,“ he said.

According to unofficial results of 2013 elections, PML-N was clearly leading on 117 seats of the National Assembly, followed by PPP and PTI as both these major players struggled to stay at least runner-up in the race. By 2am Sunday the PPP had secured 35 seats while the PTI was closely following it with 33 seats.

The results were sweet for some candidates, sour for others and mixed for some of those contesting from more than one constituencies. Announcing first official result, Chief Election Commissioner Justice (r) Fakharuddin G Ebrahim declared Jammat-e-Islami candidate as winner from upper Dir.

According to unofficial results, PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif had also won on the all-important NA-120 seat after his Sargodha victory. PTI chief Imran Khan won NA-1 Peshawar seat by defeating Ghulam Ahmad Bilour and NA-71 Mianwali seat, but he lost the NA-122 to PML-N’s Ayaz Sadiq.

Awami Muslim League’s Sheikh Rasheed Ahmed reclaimed NA-55 seat which he had lost in 2008 elections. The 2013 contest for this seat featured 23 candidates with PPP’s Chaudhry Iftikhar Ahmed and PML-N’s Shakil Awan as key other two key contenders.

PML-Q’s Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi won from NA-105 (Gujrat-II) by securing 22,000 votes. The main contest for the seat involved 25 candidates with PPP’s Ahmed Mukhtar, Pervaiz Elahi and PML-N’s Chaudhry Mubashir Hussain as key contenders.

PPP stalwart Qamar Zaman Kaira was defeated by PML-N’s Chaudhry Jaafar Iqbal in NA-106 (Gujrat-111). The other prominent contestants here were PTI’s Mian Afzal Hayat and independent candidate Syed Noorul Hassan.

MQM’s Dr Farooq Sattar won from NA-249 Karachi. MQM’s Muzammil Qureshi won NA-253 poll with over 60,000 votes. PML-N’s Syed Imran Ahmed Shah won from NA-160 (Sahiwal) by getting 30,000 votes. M Afzal Khokhar of PML-N won NA-128 seat from Lahore by getting 98,491 votes. Abdul Qadir Patel of PPPP cling to NA-239 seat by pocketing 38,000 votes.

Rana Muhammad Ishaq Khan of PML-N won NA-141 seat in Kasur by claiming 60,231 votes. PML-N’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi won the NA-50 Rawalpindi-I by claiming 80,692 votes. Ch Muhammad Ashraf of PML-N won NA-161 (Sahiwal-II) seat. Rana Nazeer Ahmed Khan of PML-N won NA-99 Gujranwala 5 seat by claiming 66,163 votes.

Polling for 844 seats of national and provincial assemblies, including Federally Administered Tribal Areas, began at eight in the morning and concluded at 6 o’ clock in the evening with extension of an hour by the election commission. Male and female voters queued up before polling stations well ahead of polling start time. Around 720,000 election officers were deployed on the polling day.

Computerised national identity cards were mandatory for casting votes despite the fact that the commission had allowed voting with expired CNICs as well. Over 15,624 contestants entered the fray for assembly polls. President Asif Ali Zardari cast his vote through postal ballot while the caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso could not make it to his home district due to time constraint and pressing engagements in the Capital.

Former Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and military chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani cast their votes in Gujar Khan while Chief Justice of Pakistan Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G Ibrahim cast their votes in Quetta and Karachi, respectively.

Some reports from KPK and parts of Fata said women were barred by candidates of different political parties from casting their votes till first half of the day, but later they were allowed to cast their votes on intervention of law-enforcement agencies.

There had been sporadic incidents of violence both in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and parts of FATA where dozens of people were reported killed, but polling continued uninterrupted except in Karachi where three people were killed and nine others wounded in a blast in Dawood Chali in Landhi area. The election commission announced to hold re-polling in more than 40 polling stations in NA-250.

On the other hand, there have been serious allegations of rigging in various parts of the country, Karachi and Hyderabad cities that prompted several parties of different constituencies to boycott polls.

The PTI routed the Awami National Party (ANP) in KPK so completely that the former ruling party in this province failed to clinch even a single seat. The PPP was severely punished by the voters because of its poor performance in the outgoing government.