Pakistan elections: Nawaz Sharif set for 3rd term, India welcomes result

FPFormer Prime Minister and Pakistan Muslim League-N party Nawaz Sharif, center, address to supporters as his brother Shahbaz Sharif, right, and daughter Maryam Nawaz, second left, looks on at a party office in Lahore, Pakistan, Saturday, May 11, 2013. (AP)

Nawaz Sharif was poised for a record third term as Pakistan's Prime Minister with his PML-N party today taking an unassailable lead in parliamentary elections, which was welcomed by India with whom he pledged to restart the peace process.

During the campaign, 63-year-old Sharif had vowed to revive the Indo-Pak peace process which was interrupted in 1999 by the then military ruler Parvez Musharraf who ousted him in a bloodless coup, jailed and exiled. He had started the peace process with then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

In New Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh lost no time in congratulating Sharif for his "emphatic victory" in the elections and invited him to visit India at a mutually convenient time.

According to state-run PTV, the unofficial results announced till late in the night showed that Sharif's PML (N) is leading with 118 seats of 272 parliamentary seats that went to the polls yesterday. Sharif needs 137 seats for a majority.

According to trends, Sharif is likely to get 125 seats. Sharif may marginally fall short of absolute majority but will be able to make it up by getting the support of independent candidates and smaller rightist parties like the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam which was ahead in 11 seats.

Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI), about which there was considerable hype, lagged behind bagging 32 seats.

The Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which had a tally of 124 in the 2008 elections and ruled the country for five years with the support of the MQM and the Awami National Party, has clinched 32 seats.

The results showed Sharif's party virtually swept the polls in central and upper parts of Punjab while it also performed well in parts of southern Punjab.

PTI almost demolished its opponents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. PML (N) has also emerged as leading party in the Punjab Assembly. PPP seems to have maintained its dominance in interior Sindh, the state-tv said.

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