Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan remained comfortably ahead in Pakistan elections, but need a coalition to form the government.

Special Correspondent

His party PTI bagged 110 seats, 27 short of majority mark 137 in 269 seats in Pakistan assembly, media reports said.

After a tediously slow count, Pakistan election officials on Friday morning announced that Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won 110 of the 269 seats being contested in the National Assembly, according to the Associated Press.

The election on Wednesday gave his nearest rival, Shahbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League 63 seats.

Sharif who heads the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif has rejected the results, alleging widespread fraud and manipulation. The results are “tainted and dubious” and would cast a “bad impact” on the country’s politics, Nawaz Sharif reportedly said.

As the trends trickled in late on Wednesday, Imran Khan’s party took a lead prompting “outright rigging” charges from the primary opposition parties Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League (PLM-N) and Bilwal Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

Third place went to the left of centre PPP with 42 seats. Results from 19 seats were still being counted.

Khan declared his victory on Thursday and dismissed the allegations of fraud calling it the most transparent election in Pakistan’s history. He pledged to match every step India takes towards Pakistan with two, in his first speech after declaring victory, “thanks to God,” in a divisive general election marking only the second civilian-to-civilian transfer of power in the country.

“We want to improve our relations with India, if their leadership also wants it. This blame game that whatever goes wrong in Pakistan is because of India and vice-versa brings us back to square one,” the 65-year-old cricketer-turned -politician said on Thursday, adding that he had been treated by the Indian media like he was a Bollywood villain.

As he made peace overtures to India, Imran Khan singled out the Kashmir issue as the biggest hurdle in relations between the subcontinental neighbours.

“The biggest problem is Kashmir, every international organisation has said that there are human rights violations taking place in Kashmir,” he said.

On other foreign policy matters, Khan called for mutually beneficial and not one-sided relations with the US, said his administration would strengthen relations with China, noting Beijing’s investment in the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and spoke of an open border with Afghanistan. He also said he wanted stronger ties with Iran and to help Saudi Arabia resolve its “inner tensions”.

The next government will need to compete for influence over foreign policy with the military, which has ruled for much of the nation’s history and faced accusations of meddling in the campaign allegations it denied.

Khan has for long criticised the US for drone strikes in Pakistan, taken a hard line against India and expressed support for China’s $60 billion infrastructure programme.

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