Thousands celebrated on the streets of Lahore after Nawaz Sharif declared victory from party headquarters in Pakistan’s dramatic landmark election.
Although counting is continuing, success is assured although doubt remains over whether it is big enough to avoid a coalition.
For the leader of the Pakistan Muslim League , its a remarkable come back 14 years after he was overthrown and exiled by a military dictator. It means a third term as prime minister for him in a poll which will see for the first time one elected government handing power to another.
Cricketing hero Imran Khan failed to stop Sharif, but a strong showing has ended the normal two-party dominance. Garnering support from country’s urban youth, he is set to squeeze the Pakistan People’s Party – which led the last government – down into third place.
But the day was not without violence and a string of bomb blasts by Pakistan’s Taliban left over 20 dead. They may have regarded the poll as un-Islamic but a voter turn out of up to 70 per cent disagreed.