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Nawaz Sharif stages comeback in Pakistan's landmark election

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Defying political pundits, former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League (PML-N) emerged as the leading political party in Saturday's general election in Pakistan. According to unofficial results PML-N was leading on 117 of 272 seats of the National Assembly.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by Imran Khan also impressed with an impressive performance coming close to becoming the second largest party in the country. PTI emerged as the largest party in the Khyber Pakhunkhwah province.

While all the results were still to come in, the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) appeared locked in a neck-to-neck battle with the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) for second position in the next parliament.

Not surprisingly, PPPP was wiped out in three provinces - Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwah and Balochistan - because of its five year corrupt rule. However it appears dominating its stronghold Sindh where it is retaining a majority of its seats.

Muttaheda Qaumi Movement (MQM) maintained its hold on seats in Karachi and urban Sindh.

Jamaat-e-Islami, Sunni Tehrik, Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen boycotted the elections in Karachi, citing massive rigging while Jamhoori Watan Party also boycotted the elections due to similar reasons.

Among those elected to National Assembly include: President Asif Zardari's sister Faryal Talpur, Makhdoom Javed Hashmi of PTI, Mehmood Khan Achakzai of the Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party, PTI-backed Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, former chief minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi, Maulana Fazalur Rehman of Jamiat-e-Ulama-e-Islam   and former NA Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza.

The PPPP bigwigs defeated in Punjab included: former prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Qamar Zaman Kaira, Manzoor Wattoo, Chaudhry Ahmed Mukhtar and Arbab Alamgir.

The election results surprised many analysts who were predicting a hung parliament as opinion polls showed Nawaz Sharif's Muslim League and Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehereek-e-Insaf in a neck-to-neck race for power. The PEW survey, released on May 8, indicated that two-thirds (66%) have a positive view of Nawaz Sharif while six-in-ten (60%) have a positive opinion about cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.

It was a landmark election where voter turnout was around 60 percent, according to the Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim. The turnout in 2008 was 44%. There were 36 million new voters among the 86 million registered to voters.

In different incidents of violence in Peshawar, Karachi and Balochistan's various areas, at least 18 persons were killed and over 50 injured. However, overall security situation was better than being widely speculated on the election day.

The vote marks Pakistan's first transition from one civilian government to another in its 66-year history.

Nawaz Sharif seeks better ties with U.S.

Nawaz Sharif, whose party swept Saturday's polls, told The Wall Street Journal that he would seek improved ties with the United States, Afghanistan and India.

"The relationship with the US was quite good when I was in power," . Sharif was quoted as saying in an interview with the American newspaper. "I'd like to take this relationship further. We need to strengthen the relationship."

Sharif said he was confident he would find an agreement with the US on controversial issues, such as American drone strikes in the tribal areas. The paper noted that the drone strikes were highly unpopular in Pakistan. "These are the concerns that the Pakistani people have," Sharif said when asked about the drone strikes. "We'll need to address these concerns. I'm very hopeful and confident about that."

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
 

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