Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has claimed victory based on vote counts showing his party in the lead. The campaign was marred by violence, and 24 were killed on election day.
As the count continued on Sunday morning, it remained unclear whether Sharif would attain the majority needed to govern outright or if he would need to form a coalition.
Sharif, 63, claimed victory late Saturday, with partial results from the day's election showing his party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), leading in more than 100 of the 272 National Assembly seat races.
Sharif spoke to supporters in Lahore on Saturday night and expressed his desire to work with all the party's to solve Pakistan's problems.
If official counts confirm Sharif's win, it will mean the man who has twice served as the country's premier and was ousted by a military coup in 1999 has managed to rise again to the top seat.
Sharif faced a tough challenge from former cricket star Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Party (PTI), who inspired Pakistani youths frustrated by the current state of affairs to get interested in the political process.
The currently empowered but outgoing Pakistan People's Party (PPP) was not expected to do well at the election, owing to general unhappiness with its performance.
Polls late Saturday showed both the PTI and PPP counts resulting in about 30 assembly seats each.
The campaign culminating in Saturday's vote had seen numerous Taliban militant attacks that killed more than 150 people in recent weeks. The Taliban has been seeking to derail the election by attacks aimed mainly at secular parties.
The militants believe Pakistan's democracy runs counter to the laws of Islam.
The attacks continued on Saturday, with violence aimed at candidates, party workers and voters that claimed at least 24 lives.
Despite the violence, voters put aside their fears of terror and turned out at the polls on Saturday by the millions.
The high turnout was a testament to the general Pakistani eagerness to see change in a country plagued by hardship and violence, as well as a rebuke to the Taliban.
Saturday's vote was the first time a civilian government in Pakistan was set to transfer power in democratic elections, marking an end to a past plagued by coups and politically instability.
tm/slk (AP, AFP, Reuters)