Rights activist Tahira Abdullah said Tuesday that local jirgas, or councils of elders, from 60 areas representing 16 different constituencies had signed agreements banning women from voting despite the new ruling.
"These elections were 100 percent transparent and fair", Raza said. With PML-N trailing on just 70 seats, it seemed clear that Sharif's election slogan, "Give Respect to the Vote", had failed to resonate with common Pakistanis.
The party of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, the historically liberal PPP, is widely expected to come third. The PPP was leading in races for 42 seats.
With 137 seats needed to form a majority, the PTI looks set to lead a coalition government headed by Khan as the prime minister.
At least one party - Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), which blockaded the capital Islamabad for weeks previous year over blasphemy - has already announced they are planning protests.
The stock market witnessed a bullish trend Thursday morning as early election results tipped the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) for victory.
If he wins the vote, Khan has promised an "Islamic welfare state" and has cast his populist campaign as a battle to topple a political elite hindering development in the impoverished, mostly-Muslim nation of 208 million people.
In a WhatsApp message, the PML-N also claimed that security forces had taken over polling stations.
In 2007, he went on hunger strike to protest against emergency rule in Pakistan a week after being jailed as part of a continuing crackdown by president Pervez Musharraf on political opponents.
A concern is the unprecedented participation of radical religious groups, including those banned for links to terrorism but resurrected under different names.
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Electoral authorities said official results declaring an outright victor were not expected before late Thursday morning. A party can only form the government if it manages to clinch 172 seats in total.
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Representatives from several parties said that their polling agents were expelled from polling stations during vote count and were denied certified copies of results - breaching election procedures.
Sharif's party tops another poll with 26 percent compared to 25 percent for Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI).
Some of those candidates belong to a new, rapidly growing anti-blasphemy movement, and others are from political groups that have been officially banned because of extremist ideologies or links to groups with violent histories.
A hospital official said an explosion outside a crowded polling station in the southwestern city of Quetta killed 31 people and wounded 35 more on Wednesday, as Pakistanis voted in general elections.
These elections are the second in Pakistan's history in which a government was able to complete its term to make way for another government after being ruled by military dictators for half of the 71 years of its existence since its founding in 1947. He did not say who he believes could have rigged the polls, but allegations of manipulating the elections have been made against the country's powerful military.
Voting appeared to be heavy in major urban centers, where long lines of voters were seen. More than 11,000 candidates vied for 270 seats in the National Assembly, and 577 seats in four provincial assemblies.
However, despite the violence and allegations of rigging, observers said this election could have historic repercussions for Pakistani democracy.
As voting ended, festive supporters of both parties gathered outside polling stations, dancing to the beat of drums.
Former premier Sharif, a vocal critic of the army, was sentenced to 10 years in prison on corruption charges in absentia and was arrested after returning to Pakistan on July 13. He has appealed his sentence.