Nawaz Sharif, the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or PML-N, political party, has claimed victory in the parliamentary elections Saturday.
Early returns indicated Sharif’s party most likely will be the winner of either a majority or a plurality of the National Assembly seats at stake, according to multiple media outlets.
These returns suggested Sharif’s party was leading in more than 100 of the 272 races to fill the seats in single-member constituencies, BBC News reported. Overall, there are 342 seats in the National Assembly: 60 are reserved for women, and 10 are reserved for minorities. All members serve five-year terms.
“I can confirm that the Pakistan Muslim League has emerged as the biggest party in elections,” Bloomberg Businessweek quoted Sharif as saying in an address to his supporters in Lahore. “I promise that we will fulfill all promises we made to you.”
A PML-N victory would be unsurprising as Sharif, 63, has been Pakistan’s prime minister twice before, between 1990 and 1993 and from 1997 to 1999.
Battling for second place in the polling were the Movement for Justice, or PTI, associated with former cricketer Imran Khan, and the Pakistan People’s Party, or PPP, associated with the country’s President Asif Ali Zardari. Each party appeared likely to win fewer than 40 of the seats at stake, BBC News said.
These elections mark a milestone for Pakistan, which will see a peaceful power transfer from one democratically elected government to another democratically elected government for the first time in the country’s history.
Of course, neither the elections themselves nor the runup to them were entirely peaceful, as Pakistan’s Taliban, an ally of al Qaeda, has killed more than 125 people in election-related violence since last month, Reuters reported.