Former Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif looks set to return to power, according to exit polls. He and his colleagues face the tough challenge of tackling Pakistan's economic woes, energy problems and violence.
The first official announcements for National Assembly seats, listed on the Election Commission's web site early Monday, showed Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had won 72 of the first 136 seats announced.
Sharif declared victory as early as Saturday, just hours after the election ended, as exit polls suggested the PML-N had taken a strong lead.
"God has blessed us with this victory, now pray that God also bless us with majority," Sharif said in Lahore late Saturday.
A stunning comeback
The result marks a comeback for Sharif, who has been Pakistan's prime minister twice before. He ruled from 1990 to 1993 and again from 1997 to 1999, when he was ousted by a military coup.
In addition to economic problems, the country has been plagued by shootings and bomb attacks by Taliban insurgents.
The militants have used violence in recent months to try and undermine the election process because they believe Pakistan's democracy runs counter to the laws of Islam.
Such attacks continued even on election day, taking aim at party workers and voters and claiming 28 lives.
Despite the attacks and the pre-election violence, Pakistanis turned out to usher in the country's first democratic transfer of power.
Turnout was estimated at 60 percent – one of the highest ever and up 16 percent from turnout for general elections in 2008.
tm/jm (AFP AP, dpa)