Pakistan's former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has claimed victory in national elections, with his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party emerging with the largest share of the vote.
Pakistan's Election Commission said official results showed that independent seats backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had won around 70 of the 265 seats being contested.
However, the biggest party standing directly was PML-N on 60 seats — well short of the 133 needed to achieve a majority.
Sharif said it would have been good to have obtained a clear majority, but that it was clear that his party didn't have the numbers to govern outright.
He said he would reach out to the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), which has so far notched up about 40 seats, to speak about a possible coalition.
"We can’t hold elections again and again," he said in comments carried by Pakistan's Dawn news outlet.
"All the institutions in this country, every one, should together play a positive role in bringing Pakistan out of this crisis," Nawaz said.
"This is everyone’s Pakistan, not just PML-N’s. Everyone should sit in harmony and bring Pakistan out of the difficulties."
Counting is still underway in the last remaining seats.
Khan was barred from contesting Thursday's election and his PTI was subject to a sweeping crackdown and taken off the ballot, forcing candidates to run as independents.
Khan loyalists ahead at half-way point: election body
Candidates supporting former Prime Minister Imran Khan have won the most seats in Pakistan's assembly election with just over half the constituencies reporting, according to the country's election commission.
The body said candidates linked to Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party had so far secured 48 seats.
The PTI candidates ran as independents as both the party and Khan, who is in jail, were barred from running.
Broadcaster GEO News has projected that Khan's independents have so far won 74 seats.
Those candidates from former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party have taken 42 seats.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated premier Benazir Bhutto, also got 34.
Former PM Imran Khan's supporters lead in first results — media
Supporters of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan have the edge in results from over 100 seats, local media projected.
Geo News said independents, who mostly owe allegiance to Khan, had won 47 of 106 seats for which it had results.
By 1 p.m. local time (0800 GMT) Friday, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had announced 70 official results, with independents getting 24.
Khan is in jail and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party was barred from the election, so his supporters contested as independents.
The Pakistan Peoples Party of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of assassinated premier Benazir Bhutto, also got 24.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which is backed by the powerful military, has so far won 18.
A total of 265 seats were contested in Thursday's election.
Analysts have predicted there may be no clear winner.