Nawaz Sharif celebrates victory in Pakistan election

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Mr Sharif sees off challenge of both the incumbent Pakistan Peoples Party and that of Imran Khan

Khudian, Lahore

Raucous celebrations broke out in the centre of Lahore in the early hours of Sunday as Nawaz Sharif appeared certain to secure victory in Pakistan's election and the former prime minister celebrated in front of crowds of his supporters.

Sharif expressed a desire to work with all parties to solve the country's problems in a victory speech given to his supporters as his lead in the national election became apparent based on vote counts announced by Pakistan state TV. 

While it seemed likely Mr Sharif, who has twice served as the country's premier though without ever completing a term, would fall a little short of securing a simple majority, there appeared little doubt he had seen off the challenge of both the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which recently completed a five year term in office, and that of a resurgent Imran Khan.

"I appeal to all to come sit with me at the table so that this nation can get rid of this curse of power cuts, inflation and unemployment," Sharif said, as his supporters clapped, cheered and danced in the streets.

Pakistan's election campaign has been marred by violence with the death toll leading up to Saturday's vote totalling well over 100. On Saturday itself, it was reported that up to 29 people were killed as a result of bomb blasts in Karachi and Peshawar, and gun attacks in Baluchistan.

The centre of Pakistan's electoral contest, which nationally saw a turnout of 60 per cent, was the province of Punjab, where Mr Sharif's party has been running the provincial government.

In Punjab, voting seemed to go reasonably smoothly and security was tight and some of the 600,000 security personnel spread out across the country, many of them heavily armed, were highly visible.

It was in the city of Lahore itself, Pakistan's second largest city, that the fight between Mr Khan's Movement for Justice and Mr Sharif's PML-N was at its fiercest, as the former sportsman tried to displace the former premier from his stronghold. Mr Sharif has long enjoyed solid support from the city's business and trading communities.

Earlier in the day, groups of young men had gathered near each other chanting slogans. “Bat!” one young man shouted in Mr Khan's constituency, referring to his appropriate election symbol. “Once more for the lion!” replied a group of Mr Sharif's supporters, referring to his symbol.

On Saturday morning, droves of enthusiastic first-time supporters of Mr Khan, principally from the urban middle classes, were prominent.

“I voted for Imran Khan, I voted for change, I voted for the country,” said Haider Ali, 28, a student. “We've seen them all, the other politicians. They shouldn't come back.”

At a polling station established in the Lahore College for Women University, located in a constituency which Mr Khan was himself was contesting, one family revealed their different preferences.

Samra Atif, 27, said she and her husband, a businessman, had voted for Mr Khan. However, her mother, Farhana Salman, had voted for Mr Sharif. She had also bullied her daughter into voting for Mr Sharif's party in the provincial assembly ballot.

“Mr Khan can confront corruption, God willing,” said the younger woman's husband, Atif Suleman. “We need change right now.”

The PPP looked set to do badly in Saturday's vote. There is widespread anger and frustration across the country as a result of electricity and energy shortages, the stumbling economy and pervasive corruption, and predictions suggested it could win as few as 33 seats.

While both the PPP and Mr Sharif have been praised for their different roles on the completion of a full term by an elected government - a first for the country - there is little affection for Mr Zardari and the party has suffered from not having high-profile candidates during the campaign. The son and political heir of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal Bhutto, has been noticeable by his absence.

The next government will have to contend with Taliban militancy, endemic corruption, chronic power cuts and crumbling infrastructure. One of the first likely tasks will be to negotiate with the International Monetary Fund for a multi-billion-dollar bailout.

If Mr Khan's PTI  squeaks into second place ahead of the PPP, thanks to support from urban youths, who rallied behind his calls for an end to corruption and a halt to drone strikes, it would mark an end to decades of two-party dominance by the PML-N and PPP.

While supporters of Mr Khan will have been bitterly disappointed, observers said that a term as official leader of the opposition could serve both him and his party well for subsequent elections. The former cricketer remains in hospital following a fall while campaigning last week.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Laura Trott with her gold
Commonwealth Games
Arts and Entertainment
Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman
film
News
Bryan had a bracelet given to him by his late father stolen during the raid
people
Sport
France striker Loic Remy
sportThe QPR striker flew to Boston earlier in the week to complete deal
Extras
indybestSpice up your knife with our selection of delicious toppings
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL DBA (2005/2008/2012, projects, storage requirements)

£45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Copywriter - Corporate clients - Wimbledon

£21000 - £23000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Copywriter - London As a Copywrite...

Horticulture Lecturer / Tutor / Assessor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: As a result of our successf...

Retail Lecturer / Assessor / Tutor - Derbyshire

£15 - £18 per hour: Randstad Education Nottingham: Randstad Education are succ...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried