Islamabad: The Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by Imran Khan was on Friday scouting for partners to form the government in Pakistan after emerging as the single largest party but short of a majority in the National Assembly elections marred by allegations of military interference and rigging.

With nearly two days elapsing since the counting of poll results began, the PTI has retained its considerable edge over its contenders, bagging 116 of the total 270 seats on which elections were held, according to the preliminary results announced by the poll officials here.

The incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) bagged only 64 seats and the Pakistan Peoples Party, led by former Prime Minister, the late Benazir Bhutto’s son Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, was placed third with 43 seats.

While cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, 65, is all set to be the 19th Prime Minister, his tryst with destiny still faces a possible last glitch.

A party needs at least 137 seats to cross the half-way mark in the 272-member National Assembly. Since voting wasn’t held in two constituencies, the effective strength of the House was brought down to 270 — which means Khan needs at least 136 members.

The votes of four constituencies were still being counted. The PTI is leading in all of them, according to TV reports. Assuming that the PTI gets all four, bringing Khan’s final tally to 120, the Prime Minister-in-waiting would still need the support of 16 members.

According to media reports citing unnamed sources, the PTI has established its first contacts with 12 independents and is confident of getting their support to pave the way for Khan to take the helm of the nation battling severe economic and security crises.

The Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)-Pakistan, which has won six seats, has also agreed to support Khan, according to Dawn News.

PTI leaders Jahangir Tareen and Khali Maqbool are expected to meet MQM leaders to formalize the alliance, the Dawn said in its online report.

The PTI has also returned to power in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. It also won 123 seats in Punjab — the traditional bastion of the Sharif family and its PML-N which ha grabbed 127 constituencies.

A party needs 149 seats in the 297-member Punjab assembly to form the government in the wealthiest and most populous province of Pakistan.

None of the parties has secured a majority even as the PTI and PML-N claim that they are confident of forming the government in Punjab where the Sharifs have been ruling since 1988. Independent candidates have won 29 seats in the province, while PML-Q has won seven.

The PPP appears set to form the government in Sindh for the third consecutive term. The party has won 74 seats in the Sindh Assembly while the PTI has edged past MQM-P to emerge as the second-largest political party with 23 seats – mostly from Karachi.

The Balochistan Awami Party has won 14 seats in the Balochistan Assembly, becoming the largest party in the province, while the MMA is in the second place with nine seats.

The PTI has once again dominated electoral proceedings in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, bagging a whopping 67 seats, followed by the Majilsi Muttahida Amal (MMA) which has only managed to win 10. The Awami National Party’s seat tally stands at six while the PML-N has won five. The PPP has won four seats in the provincial assembly.

The just concluded Pakistan elections have been marred by allegations of rigging and military interference. The PML-N, the PPP and other smaller parties have refused to accept the poll results but have announced they would sit in the opposition.

Amid the allegation flying thick and fast, Pakistan Army spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted that it was only Allah who “honours whom he wants and humbles whom he wants to”.

The Arabic tweet is a verse from the Qur’an that was taken by many on the social media as the army’s confirmation of supporting Khan.

The PML-N founder, Nawaz Sharif, told his family from Adiala jail where he is serving a 10-year sentence for corruption, that he considered the result “stolen”, according to a statement from the PML-N.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has dismissed allegations of manipulation — blaming the delay on glitches in new, untested counting software — and said there would be a full result on Friday.