With counting of votes still underway in the 11th general assembly of Pakistan, PTI supporters across the country started early celebrations in anticipation of their party's victory while PML-N cast doubts over the counting process.
The country seemed to head for a hung National Assembly late on Wednesday, as the leads from counting centres showed no party getting a clear-cut majority.
The leads, however, put Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) ahead of the rest, including Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
According to the projections around midnight and based on reporting of 26 per cent of polling stations by ECP, the PTI was leading in 110 seats, PML-N in 67 and the Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari-led Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)A was trailing at number three with 41 seats.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, from its official Twitter handle, tweeted that the party is "heading right towards Naya Pakistan".
According to PTV news, Imran Khan has maintained a massive lead over PML-N's Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Islamabad constituency. The PTI chief was pitted against former Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the crucial National Assembly seat.
The voter turnout was recorded at 50-55 per cent of the nearly 106 million electorates, similar to the previous electoral contest in 2013.
Television visuals showed election workers sorting through massive piles of paper ballots at polling stations across the country.
In Punjab, with results from 19 per cent polling stations available with ECP, PML-N is currently leading the race with 137 provincial seats but PTI is closing in with 115 seats.
Meanwhile, PTI is clearly steering ahead in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa with 62 seats against ANP, which currently has 10 seats.
Counting is still going on at the polling stations of different constituencies.
PML-N President Shahbaz Sharif at a mid-vote count press conference said his party rejects the poll results. In a tweet, he said the party had rejected the results "due to manifest and massive irregularities".
PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also tweeted saying he had not received any official results from any constituency where he was contesting, despite it being past midnight. "My candidates (have been) complaining (that) polling agents have been thrown out of polling stations across the country. Inexcusable and outrageous."
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).
The ECP spokesperson told Dawn that the system has been overwhelmed due to a large number of polling officers using at the same time to log Form 45.
A single party will need to bag at least 137 of the directly elected seats to be able to form the government on its own.
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.
As many as 12,570 candidates were in the electoral fray for a total of 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the country's 11th general election.
( 531 Words)