Pakistan dollar bonds rise as election results awaited - Tradeweb

Imran Khan wants to create a 'New Pakistan,' many fear more of the same

Pakistan's cricket star turned politician Imran Khan declared victory Thursday for his party in the country's general elections, promising a "new" Pakistan following a vote that was marred by allegations of fraud and militant violence.

"This will be the first government that will not carry out any political victimization", Khan said in a speech on Thursday.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, has called the count an "assault on democracy" in a country which has a history of military rule. The results had been due by around 2 a.m. (2100 GMT on Wednesday). Pakistan's military deployed 350,000 troops countrywide at polling stations.

Polling officers count ballots at a polling station in Islamabad.

Several rival party leaders had earlier alleged that the delay was caused by a "wicked conspiracy" or pressure by PTI.

Only hours after polls had closed, Shahbaz Sharif claimed the vote had been "rigged", citing complaints that soldiers stationed in polling stations had thrown out poll monitors from political parties during the counting.

"Khan as prime minister is unlikely to challenge the army's authority on policies including national security, defence, and relations with India, Afghanistan, and the US", Mr Shailesh Kumar, Asia director at Eurasia Group in NY, said in a report. The party has officially held back on declaring victory, but party spokesman Fawad Chaudhry tweeted "Congratulations to the nation on a new Pakistan!"

More than a dozen TV channels in Pakistan, based on official but partial counts, were projecting - using their own, undisclosed methodologies - that Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party is getting as many as 119 seats of the 270 National Assembly seats that were contested.

Violence erupted across the country, with at least 31 dead in the worst attack, a suspected suicide bomb in the city if Quetta.

Imran Khan wants to create a 'New Pakistan,' many fear more of the same
PTI leads in Pak election 2018 results

Pakistanis started casting votes in the country's one-day general elections commenced on Wednesday morning, which would elect the members of the National Assembly, the lower house of the country's parliament, and of the four provincial assemblies. Nawaz Sharif was ousted from power previous year and jailed over a corruption conviction days before the vote, removing Khan's most unsafe rival.

It appears likely that Tehreek-e-Insaf will fall short of the 137 seats needed to form a government, raising the prospect Mr Khan's party will have to find coalition partners. Sharif's PML (N) is second with 64 seats, while the youngest candidate, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari comes in third with 38 seats.

Before the vote, Pakistan's independent Human Rights Commission said the campaign had been characterized by "blatant, aggressive, and unabashed attempts to manipulate" the outcome, with a crackdown on the media and intimidation of candidates.

"I anticipate the debate over rigging will occupy the political elite for some time", she said.

This election has also been plagued by accusations of pre-poll rigging and manipulation leveled by some political parties against the military establishment in favor of PTI, although both military and PTI have rubbished such accusations.

Khan, who captained Pakistan to their World Cup cricket victory in 1992, vowed during the campaign to tackle widespread graft while building an "Islamic welfare state".

Ex-chief minister Pervez Khattak, who won the NA-25 (Nowshera) seat, was also leading in two provincial assembly constituencies in his native Nowshera.

"We made history today", said Khan.

A PTI win would also represent an end to decades of rotating leadership between the PPP and PML-N that was punctuated by periods of military rule. It's an incredible lesson in tenacity, belief and refusal to accept defeat.

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