Imran Khan declares victory as rivals decry ‘rigging’

Vastavam web: Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan declared victory on Thursday in a divisive general election, and said he was ready to lead the nuclear-armed nation despite a long delay in ballot counting and allegations of vote-rigging from his main opponents.His success in Wednesday’s election is a stunning rise for an anti-corruption crusader who has spent much of his political career on the fringes of Pakistan politics, but now stands on the brink of becoming the country’s prime minister.

Supporters of jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who accuse Khan of colluding with the still powerful army, said the vote count was rigged in what it termed an assault on democracy in a country with a history of military rule.

Oxford-educated Khan, in the past a fierce critic of U.S. policy in the region, called for “mutually beneficial” ties with Pakistan’s on-off ally the United States, and offered an olive branch to arch-foe India, saying the two nations should resolve their long-simmering dispute over Kashmir.In a speech peppered with populist pledges, Khan promised to create jobs for the poor and said he would turn the palatial prime minister’s official residence in the capital into an education facility instead of living in it.With about half the votes counted, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), or Pakistan Movement for Justice, had a wide lead in the Muslim-majority nation, the country’s election commission said.