Imran Khan may have early lead in Pakistan elections, unofficial results show

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

Former cricketer Imran Khan has claimed victory in Pakistan's election, amid accusations of vote rigging by rivals.

At least 32 people were killed and several injured mostly in a suicide bombing in Balochistan on Wednesday as millions of voters queued up across Pakistan to elect a new government.

In the run-up to the election, in India, Khan was projected as a Pakistani leader with strong anti-India sentiments with some TV channels dubbing him as the "axis of anti-India" sentiment in Pakistan.

Pakistan has swung between military and civilian rule throughout its history, and the military and courts have been accused of running a targeted crackdown on Khan's opponents this time around.

Provisional results shows Mr Khan's party was in the lead, but it is still expected to fall short of forming majority government.

Whichever party wins, it will face a mounting and urgent in-tray, from a brewing economic crisis to worsening relations with on-off ally the United States, and deepening cross-country water shortages. "This is not election but selection", Shehbaz, the three-time chief minister of the country's largest Punjab province, said. After decades in politics Khan, who is seen by many as the army's favorite candidate, looks set to lead the Islamic nuclear state.

Khan's position on the US is far more hawkish than former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, noted Moeed Yusuf, from US Institute of Peace.

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

Shahbaz, who is hoping to become the next prime minister after the jailing of his brother and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in a corruption case, warned his party would launch protests against the alleged rigging. In 2004, the couple announced they had divorced amicably, ending the nine-year marriage because it was "difficult for Jemima to adapt to the political life of Imran Khan in Pakistan".

Throughout the night, Mr Khan's supporters celebrated outside party offices nationwide. He said he voted for Khan "because we need someone who isn't corrupt, who can fix things".

Baluchistan also saw the worst violence during campaigning earlier this month, when a suicide bomber struck at a political rally, killing 149 people, including the candidate Siraj Raisani. Results were delayed because the agency's results transmission system - in use for the first time in Pakistan - broke down due to pressure overloads, he said in a separate press briefing.

Such a delay could further imperil Pakistan's economy, with a looming currency crisis expected to force the new government to turn to the International Monetary Fund for Pakistan's second bailout since 2013.

About 371,000 soldiers have been stationed at polling stations across the country, almost five times the number deployed at the last election in 2013. The PML-N and the PPP both raised questions on the transparency of the vote counting process, alleging their polling agents were not allowed to verify vote counts as is mandated by law. PTI has not ruled out seeking succor from China, Islamabad's closest ally.

The PML-N has taken hope in another opinion poll focusing on Punjab only - Sharif's party had a lead of 51 per cent to PTI's 30 per cent, according to the IPOR Consulting survey conducted from April 15 to June 2.

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