LAHORE, Pakistan – On Friday, as Pakistan approached the end of a long and controversial vote-counting process, political rivals of Imran Khan, leader of the victorious party, reluctantly accepted that he would become Pakistan's next prime minister.
Mr. Khan's party, the Pakistani Justice Movement, swept most of the country, played heavily in urban areas and has so far won 116 seats in parliament, compared with 64 for the second place party, known as P.M.L.N. On Friday, the National Electoral Commission had counted the votes for 264 of the 269 seats that were contested on Wednesday. Khan, a former cricket star who has been seeking a higher office for 20 years, was the favorite candidate of the Pakistani military. Human rights groups and many analysts have said that in the months leading up to the election, military and intelligence officials threatened and blackmailed politicians in rival factions to join Mr. Khan and clear the way for his victory. Mr. Khan has denied this.
Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, one of the leaders of the PML-N and the nephew of Mr. Sharif, said that his party had many complaints about how the election had gone and that on Wednesday night some observers of the party were illegally prevented to see the counted votes.
But his party is not planning to boycott the results and has instead decided "We do not want to disrupt the democratic process in Pakistan," Hamza said, "to become part of the political opposition to the Khan party in the National Assembly. "
"The country faces many challenges, so all parties should work together in harmony to ensure that the country does not suffer."
In Pakistan, analysts say, this is considered a concession speech. In the political dynasty, he finished third with 43 seats and said on Friday that it was not yet decided if he should accept the official results. Khan's rivals have raised allegations of electoral fraud and expressed their suspicions about the slow electoral table election, which has taken more than two days. Election officers apologized, saying that the delay had been caused by a meltdown in their computer systems that disrupted the transmission of results on election night.
Most Pakistanis accepted the disturbances and accepted Mr. Khan as the victor. Few people in cafes and shops pay much attention to the political news airing everywhere on them. Despite vague threats from the losing parties, no major protests have erupted.
Mr. Khan remains popular, especially among the young people in Pakistan's cities, who seem driven by his victory. He is known as a sharp anti-corruption fighter, and in a speech to the nation he held on Thursday, he emphasized populist policies to help Pakistan's many poor.
Some critics accuse him of sympathizing with the Taliban and others by extremist groups. Mr. Khan introduced himself as a dedicated Muslim, and in his speech on Thursday, he said he wanted Pakistani society to be more like the Islamic welfare state that the Prophet Muhammad founded centuries ago.
Observers from a European Union delegation seemed disappointed in the way the election was conducted.
"Overall, the 2018 electoral process was not as satisfying as 2013," said Michael Gahler, the delegation leader referring to the last parliamentary elections in Pakistan.
He added that the news media had been curtailed and that the elections had been "negatively influenced by the country's political environment".
Reports were submitted by Salman Masood in Islamabad and Daniyal Hassan and Meher Ahmad in Lahore.