Considered a precursor to the general elections, the results of by-polls are crucial, especially for Pakistan, which went through a political crisis. The party of Pakistan's ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan looks set to score a landslide win in crucial by-elections, which will likely deepen years of political uncertainty in the South Asian country.
Candidates from Khan's party, Pakistan Tehrek-e-Insaaf (PTI), were in the lead in at least 16 constituencies out of 20 in the politically significant central province of Punjab, according to the electoral commission. The outcome means Khan's party can now regain the government in Punjab, three months after it lost the country's biggest province to the party of former premier Nawaz Sharif.
Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz, who has been leading the campaign, said her party accepts defeat as "the decision by masses against them."
Political experts believe victory in the crucial election will give impetus to Khan's demand for fresh elections at a time when Pakistan's economy is in the process of consolidation. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week revived a $6-billion bailout loan for Pakistan after several months of stalemate due to political turmoil. The country is expecting another $4 billion from friendly countries this month to avoid a looming default on international liabilities.