Pakistan's election commission says opposition independent candidates backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan have won the most seats in Thursday's general election. But they failed to gain a majority in parliament, prompting the governing party to launch coalition talks.
The commission said on Sunday that Khan-affiliated candidates and other independents secured 101 of the 266 seats contested by direct voting.
It said 75 seats went to the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, or PML-N, party headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Analysts had been closely watching whether Sharif's party, which is said to have favorable ties with the military, would retain the reins of government.
Khan leads the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI, party, which is popular with young voters. The former cricket star was ineligible to stand in the poll as he is in prison for corruption and other charges. His party's candidates had to run as independents.
Despite the announcement by the election commission, it is expected to take more time before results in some electoral districts can be finalized.
Several PTI-affiliated candidates took their concerns to courts, challenging victories declared for their rivals. They say they must have gotten more votes than the counts released by election officials. The PTI party is also holding protests over the matter.
Local media report that no party acquired a majority in the election, raising the need to form a coalition government. Sharif's party is currently in coalition talks with other forces, including the Pakistan People's Party, or PPP.