Nawaz Sharif set for third term as Pakistan PM

Nawaz SharifPakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif addresses supporters at the party office in Lahore. (AP)

Surpassing even his own expectations, Nawaz Sharif was Sunday poised for an emphatic return as Pakistan's prime minister. As results trickled in, his party PML(N) looked set for a massive victory, finishing just 10-odd seats short of a majority.

As his supporters celebrated on the streets, Sharif was closeted in talks with brother Shahbaz and senior party members at the family's Raiwind residence on the outskirts of Lahore, where unprecedented security measures have already been put in place. Editorial: Vote for politics

Trends for the 272 parliamentary seats that went to polls Saturday showed that the PML(N) was set to bag between 110 and 130 seats. Sharif needs 137 seats for a majority. Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) was expected to get 32 to 33 seats. The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) — which had a tally of 124 in the 2008 elections and ruled for five years with the support of the MQM and the Awami National Party — is likely to get 25 to 31 seats. The MQM could get 15 seats, the Independents between 21 and 25. Related: Experts see a Pak regime conducive for developing ties

Senior PML(N) leader and former foreign minister Sartaj Aziz told the media that Sharif was in "talks with some Independent MPs to get them on board and in discussions to work out a few key portfolios in the cabinet".

In his victory speech, Sharif had asked his supporters to pray that the Pakistan Muslim League (N) was able to form the government "without crutches". The results seemed to be an answer to his prayers. Opinion: An extraordinary election

The numbers may vary once the Election Commission issues the official results, which are expected only after the commission resolves complaints of rigging and electoral malpractices. Allegations have surfaced, especially regarding two prestigious constituencies in Lahore. In one of these constituencies, Imran Khan was pitted against a PML(N) leader, and the PTI leader on Sunday talked about poll rigging from his hospital bed.

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