From defeat to victory, Jemima congratulates Imran on becoming PM

Pakistani soldiers sit on a truck during a patrol on a street in Rawalpindi

Meanwhile, PTI is clearly steering ahead in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a lead on 64 seats against Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), which is now leading on 12 seats, as per reporting from 35pc polling stations in the province.

Khan is campaigning on populist promises to build a "New Pakistan", vowing to eradicate corruption, clean up the environment and construct an "Islamic welfare" state.

Independent candidate Jibran Nasir said that Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan supporters attacked a facilitation camp he had set up in Chandio Village in Karachi.

The ballots will be cast for 272 general seats of the lower house - also known as the National Assembly - and 577 general seats of the country's four provincial assemblies. A coalition government will be needed. A single party will need at least 137 of the directly elected seats to be able to form the government on its own.

Ahead of the elections, the PML-N complained of a targeted crackdown by the security establishment, with the alleged help of the courts, in favour of the PTI party.

The slow vote count has led to allegations of ballot-rigging, with the party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif rejecting the results before counting was completed. He did not say who he believes could have rigged the polls, but allegations of manipulating the elections have been made against the country's influential military.

Both parties said they would announce their course of action on Thursday, while PTI dismissed accusations of malfeasance. "Pakistan has suffered today", he told journalists at the press conference in Lahore.

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"We will sweep the elections", said Abdul Basit, a supporter of Khan's, who watched the results on a large TV screen.

Khan also raised eyebrows in recent weeks by increasingly catering to hardline religious groups, particularly over the inflammatory issue of blasphemy - sparking fears a win for PTI could embolden Islamist extremists.

Pakistani election officials receive ballot boxes and voting materials at a distribution centre in Peshawar on July 24, 2018. The ECP rejected the "blatant" rigging allegations.

Election Commission of Pakistan will release results by constituency, as well as projection and votes polled for candidates on each seat. He, however, acknowledged that the delay in announcement of election results had "caused some annoyance".

But any delay to the formation of a government is likely to be a concern for Pakistanis waking up to an unclear result, considering Pakistan's turbulent political history and a brewing economic crisis. "Our polling agents were not given results and we will not accept it", said Khurshid Shah of PPP. "These elections were fair and we have not received any complaint". He also the urged people of the country to fulfill their towards their nation and turn up in huge numbers on the election day.

According to a poll official, 5,878 polling stations have been declared "highly sensitive" - official euphemism to mean they are prone to violence - in Sindh; 5,487 in Punjab and Islamabad; 3,874 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA and 1,768 in Balochistan.

Rights activist Tahira Abdullah said Tuesday that local jirgas, or councils of elders, from 60 areas representing 16 different constituencies had signed agreements banning women from voting despite the new ruling.

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