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Pakistan's benchmark index surged as much as 1.9 percent in early trading after Khan took a commanding lead with almost half the votes counted after the election, which has been marred by claims of rigging by opponents.

The official residences of Governors will be part of the sweeping austerity measure - they will be turned into hotels or any other revenue-generating venture and the proceeds to go towards lifting the economy, said Imran Khan in a victory speech this evening even before the results of yesterday's elections were announced.

But supporters of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif said the process was an assault on democracy in a country that has a history of military rule.

The results had been due by around 5am on Thursday (Singapore time).

Up to 800,000 police and military forces have been stationed at more than 85,000 polling stations across the country, with concerns for security after a string of bloody militant attacks in the final weeks of the campaign that have killed more than 180 people, including three candidates. The tweet featured a collage of pictures of Pakistanis handing military personnel at polling stations flowers and elderly women kissing soldiers.

At a midnight press conference when the vote count was underway, PML-N president Shahbaz Sharif said the election was a "blatant violation" of the mandate of the people.

A delay has been reported in the transmission of election results due to the breaking down of the ECP's Results Transmission System (RTS), which is being run through a software powered by National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra).

"In the meantime, the prospect of an Imran Khan-led government will in my view introduce further rockiness into US-Pakistan ties". In all likelihood, the contest seemed to head for a two-party battle between Khan's PTI and the incumbent PML-N of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whose brother Shehbaz is leading its campaign.

The election, in which Pakistanis voted for the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, and the four provincial assemblies, marked only the second time in Pakistan's 71-year history that one civilian government has handed power to another in the country of 200 million people. Nawaz Sharif was ousted from power a year ago and jailed over a corruption conviction days before the vote, removing Khan's most risky rival.

It still wasn't clear whether Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) would get a simple majority or have to form a coalition.

Haider also demanded that both results of the constituencies of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari should be presented instantly.

"I anticipate the debate over rigging will occupy the political elite for some time", she said.

"Claims of election rigging occur after every election in Pakistan - but this time around, they will be harder to brush aside given the overt role the military has played", said Ms Shamila Chaudhary, a former White House and State Department official who is now a fellow at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

However, the PML-N claims there has been a targeted crackdown of its activities by the intelligence services, with the help of the courts. The army has also dismissed allegations of meddling in the election.

In other areas, it said, "polling staff appeared to be biased toward a certain party", without naming the party.

According to a CNN report, South Asia expert Michael Kugelman states that despite Khan's promise of a "New Pakistan", the military will continue to hold a dominant position in the hierarchy of power in the nation. It's an incredible lesson in tenacity, belief and refusal to accept defeat.


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