Neck to neck contest between Imran Khan and Nawaz Sharif as huge turnout makes the fight interesting

By Anam Fayyaz

Lahore, May 10 (  The party of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, the PML-N, looks set to win the most seats in the vote. But the popularity of former cricket star Imran Khan could deprive Sharif of a majority and dash his hopes for a return to power 14 years after he was ousted in a military coup, jailed and later exiled.

Both  PML-N and PTI are leading on many seats.

The PML-N remained the front-runner in the Punjab which, with the largest share of parliamentary seats, usually dictates the outcome of elections. But Khan’s Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI)  was close behind, with almost 25 per cent of voters across the country indicating their support for the party.

    Khan, Pakistan’s best-known sportsman who led a playboy lifestyle in his younger days, is seen by many as a refreshing change from the dynastic politicians who long relied on a patronage system to win votes and are often accused of corruption.
Khan appeals mostly to young, urban voters because of his calls for an end to corruption, a new political landscape and a halt to U.S. drone strikes on Pakistani soil. About one-third of the country’s population is under the age of 30

  Results from nearly 70,000 polling stations nationwide are expected to start trickling in from around 10 p.m. (1700 GMT).

Voters will elect 272 members of the National Assembly and to win a simple majority, a party would have to take 137 seats.

However, the election is complicated by the fact that a further 70 seats, most reserved for women and members of non- Muslim minorities, are allocated to parties on the basis of their performance in the contested constituencies.

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