Nawaz Sharif, former Pakistani prime minister, has declared victory in Pakistan's landmark general elections, according to early poll results.
Sharif, who was the contest's front-runner, is the head of the Muslim League-N, which was leading in 114 constituencies out of 272, partial and initial results showed.
Sharif was Pakistan's prime minister from 1990 to 1993 before he was sacked for corruption, and again from 1997 to 1999, when he was overthrown by the country's military.
He also won the constituency seat from Sargodha, in Punjab province, where his party has a strong following.
Speaking from the balcony of the PMLN Secretariat in Lahore, Sharif said his party had garnered the most votes and was praying for an "outright majority," Newsweek Pakistan reported:
Results are still coming in, but this much is confirmed we're the single largest party so far, says Nawaz Sharif.
"I appeal for all parties to come to the table and sit with me and solve the country's problems," Sharif said in his speech, Agence France-Presse reported. "I'm doing this only because of you. If it had been only myself, I would not talk to them but it's for you and for the survival of your future generations."
Popular rival and ex-cricketer Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was ahead in 38 constituencies, while the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) had 33 seats.
Khan also defeated a powerful incumbent in Peshawar, Channel News Asia reported, and could possibly become a powerful opposition leader.
At Sharif's PML-N headquarters in Lahore, 300 to 400 of his supporters were watching the early results stream in.
Twin bombings in Karachi that left as many as 11 dead, marred the beginning of voting Saturday in Pakistan's landmark general elections.
Pakistanis have begun voting in the national and provincial elections, amid Taliban threats of suicide bombing targeting polling stations.
The bombings occurred near a secular political party's election office in Pakistan’s commercial hub, with senior police official Mazhar Nawaz saying:
"The target was an election candidate of ANP [Awami National Party]. He was traveling in his car when the bomb exploded."
The target of the attack, Amanullah Mehsud, escaped unhurt, Nawaz said.
Hamida (who only uses her first name), a resident of Karachi's Landhi neighborhood, told GlobalPost that the first blast echoed through her house.
"I made sure my entire family was indoors, and that's when the second blast occurred. My entire house shook, it felt like an earthquake. Car alarms are ringing, people are crying."
Though Hamida had planned to vote Saturday, she instead decided to avoid the polling station.
"We are too scared."
Meanwhile, a bomb attack targeting female voters in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar wounded eight people, according to police.
The Australian Associated Press quoted Shafiullah Khan, a senior police officer, as saying:
"The bomb was planted on a motorcycle. Several people including police have been injured. The motorcycle was parked outside a women's polling station."
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack in Karachi, the Press Trust of India wrote, however the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan had previously secular-leaning parties.
Tens of thousands of troops have been deployed at polling stations in the wake of a Pakistani Taliban threat to carry out suicide attacks during the poll — which marks Pakistan's first transition from one civilian government to another in its 66-year history.
Pakistan sealed its borders with Iran and Afghanistan hours before polls opened, in a bid to keep foreign militants away from civilian polling stations.
However, despite precautionary efforts, more than 100 people have been killed by violence in the run-up to the election.
The election front-runner is ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, head of the center-right Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N).
However, hopes remain high among supporters of the country's former cricket star Imran Khan, who has promised reform, an end to corruption and to cooperation with the US military in its fight against militants.
Khan, 60, leads Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), and gained a last-minute surge of support after fracturing his spine when he fell from a stage at a campaign rally on Tuesday.
Voting was proceeding peacefully in the eastern city of Lahore, EU observers said, while Peshawar and Karachi saw long queues of women waiting to vote — many for the first time, excited about being part of a historic change.
More than 86 million people are eligible to vote for the 342-member national assembly and four provincial assemblies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. Voting ends at 5 p.m. local time.
Meanwhile elsewhere in the country, despite signs of strong early turnout, many polling stations had still not opened hours after they were supposed to, GlobalPost correspondent Mariya Karimjee reported, and voting has been delayed.
The Karachi Deputy Inspector General of police arrived at a voting station located in the DHA Model School in Karachi's posh neighborhood of Defense, bringing extra security to figure out what was causing the delay. And while it was initially reported that the hold up was due to there being no ballot boxes at the station, and then later that there were no ballot papers, the DIG explained that the issue was that there was no staff.
Additionally, there have been delays at polls for two hotly contested seats, NA 250 and NA 249.
Many people in the NA 250 district were being told that their votes would be cast for them, and that they could go home.
Meanwhile, voters were being told that their ballots could be invalidated if the ink on their thumb ran onto the ballot sheet, or if their ballot was not folded correctly.
However, when asked how to fold a ballot, the election commissions presiding officer had no idea, Karimjee reported.
Much of the blame for the voting hiccups in Karachi has been cast on Pakistan's election commission-- presiding officers at polling stations were misinformed, disorganized and illiterate, they say. Other unsubstantiated complaints involve voters being told to go home because their votes had already been cast for them.
Jamaat Islami, an Islamic political party in Pakistan has decided to withdraw all of their candidates as a boycott to Saturday's election, claiming that the process was neither free nor fair.
However despite all the logistical and political problems that have plagued the elections thus far, many voters remain resilient, firmly committed to casting their vote come hell or high temperature.
Batool Akhlaq, a doctor pictured below, said that she was going to stay until the doors opened.
"I've waited over five years for this vote, five hours in the heat is nothing."