Sharif Heads for Victory in Pakistan
Ex-PM looks set to cruise to 3rd term in landmark elections
By Polly Davis Doig, Newser Staff
Posted May 12, 2013 6:46 AM CDT
Pakistani girls cross a street decorated with election posters showing cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Sunday, May 12, 2013.   (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

(Newser) – Pakistan's former prime minister appears headed to return to the office for a third term as the restive country makes its first democratic transition since 1970, reports the New York Times. Early returns this morning show Nawaz Sharif's party easily securing enough seats to form a government—besting surging opposition leader and cricket hero Imran Kahn—though it's unclear if he'll have to form a coalition. Violence and drama marked the election, with high emotions driving robust turnout even as Taliban threats manifested themselves in attacks that killed at least 21 throughout the country.

Khan raised eyebrows during the campaign by threatening to end CIA drone strikes, and he appears to have what the Times calls a "valuable consolation prize": control of the government in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which lies on the Afghanistan border. Hamid Karzai himself applauded Sharif's victory, though he prodded the victor to "sincerely cooperate in rooting out terrorist sanctuaries so that our two brotherly nations could be saved" from insurgents. Sharif led Pakistan in the '90s, before he was deposed in a 1999 coup by Pervez Musharraf.

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