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
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
All British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Arts and Entertainment
One of the installations in the Reiner Ruthenbeck exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery
artCritics defend Reiner Ruthenbeck's 'Overturned Furniture'
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

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game