The party of Pakistani cricket star Imran Khan early Sunday conceded defeat in general elections, but said it would form the next government in the terror-hit northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Assad Omar, a senior leader in Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), sent his congratulations to the centre-right Pakistan Muslim League-N, which he said had emerged as the largest party, as results started to come through.
But speaking to private TV channel Geo, he refused to be defeatist.
“For Tehreek-e-Insaf it is a big day, a golden day. A party which has no existence in parliament has emerged the second largest national party and the leading party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where God willing it is going to form a government,” he said.
Northwestern Pakistan is on the frontline of a nearly seven-year domestic Taliban insurgency and suffers near daily bomb and shooting attacks blamed on militants.
Khan has called for an end to military operations and peace talks with the Taliban, making his party’s win in the northwest an interesting proposition.
Omar said the PTI leader, who is flat on his back in hospital with a fractured spine after falling from the stage of a campaign rally, was following the results.
“He will give his reaction tomorrow, but I will say he knows how to win and how to lose, and after losing, how to come back. He is taking these results like a sportsman,” Omar said.
Millions of Pakistanis on Saturday voted for the 342-member national assembly and four provincial assemblies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan.
“It is very clear that PTI has emerged as the largest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, so we will form our government here with the help of like-minded political parties,” said Shaukat Yousafzai, who won a seat for the party in the provincial assembly.
“We will make a coalition with all those political parties and MPs who were never involved in corruption,” he added.