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Party of ex-PM concedes victory to Imran Khan in Pakistan election

By
Susan McFarland
Supporters of Imran Khan, head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party celebrate in Karachi, Pakistan, on Thursday. On Friday, the political party of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif accepted defeat despite saying the election was rigged. Photo by Shahzaib Akber/EPA-EFE
Supporters of Imran Khan, head of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party celebrate in Karachi, Pakistan, on Thursday. On Friday, the political party of Pakistan's former prime minister Nawaz Sharif accepted defeat despite saying the election was rigged. Photo by Shahzaib Akber/EPA-EFE

July 27 (UPI) -- Although the political party of former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif said the country's general election was rigged, it accepted defeat Friday.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or PML-N, party conceded the election to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, or PTI, party and its leader, Imran Khan.

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Sharif's PML-N party, which alleged votes were tampered with, said on Friday the outcome of the vote would be accepted for the sake of democracy.

Khan's PTI Party secured at least 116 of the 272 National Assembly seats, with preliminary results in for 260 seats.

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Since that won't give the party a clear majority, it'll need to assemble a coalition to form a government. At least 137 seats are required for a majority.

Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, Sharif's nephew and a PML-N senior leader, said, "Even if democracy is flawed, its solution is more democracy, and then more democracy."

Former cricket star Khan said the vote was "clearest, fairest election Pakistan has ever had."

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Millions of Pakistanis voted in Wednesday's election, including women in areas where they previously were prohibited from voting. The election had 12,570 candidates vying for 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies.

The election was marred by violence and Sharif was arrested this month on charges of owning assets beyond income and failing to cooperate with Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau. On Wednesday, dozens of people were killed when a bomb went off near a Quetta polling station, killing 29 people and injuring 40 just hours after polls opened.

Nearly 200 million people live in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed rival to India, which is a key developing economy and one of the world's largest Muslim-majority nations.

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Khan has said if elected, along with focusing on the economy, he would meet with Indian officials to seek a resolution over the disputed Kashmir region, a key crossroad between the nuclear-armed countries.

"I really want to fix our ties, you take one step forward, we take two," Khan said Thursday.

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