Nawaz Sharif, the incumbent prime minister and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) party, has declared victory for his party in Pakistan's election. According to Reuters, unofficial results show the PML-N with a clear lead, ahead in 119 of the 272 National Assembly seat that are being contested. Although official results are not due out until Sunday, it is now almost certain that Sharif will become Pakistan's prime minister for the third time. Pakistan's Chief Election Commissioner Fakharuddin Ebrahim said that voter turnout was just under 60%.
Speakers to supporters, Sharif said, "Results are still coming in, but this much is confirmed: we're the single largest party so far. Please pray that by morning we're in a position that we don't need the crutch of coalition partners." Imran Khan's party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which looks set to finish with the second largest share of seats, has conceded defeat.
It is still unclear whether Sharif and the PML-N will gain enough seats to rule on their own or whether they will be forced to form a coalition with other parties. Despite not doing as well as expected, the performance of the PTI marks an end to the PML-N and Pakistan People's Party (PPP) dominance of Pakistani politics.
Sindh-based Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), one of the largest parties in the country, and the Sunni Ittehad Council and Jamaat e Islami parties reportedly announced that they would be boycotting the elections because of vote rigging.
So while Khan and his PTI party unfortunately won't be shooting down any U.S. drones, they still have a role to play in helping to shape Pakistan's future. Speaking to Al Jazeera, Fauzia Kasuri, a founding member of the party said:
"We had expected a better result, but consider that we have nearly 40 seats, it's a big achievement. [Imran Khan] has created a sense of belonging and participation in people, particularly the youth and women of Pakistan. I think its a terrific thing for young people. We will be sitting in opposition, and will be a good opposition. There are lots of challenges facing the country. I feel the role of the opposition is as important as that of the government in these circumstances."