In Pics: As Pakistan gears up for election day on Wednesday, the country remains on high alert
Pakistanis will go to the polls tomorrow to elect a new prime minister, transferring power from one civilian government to another for only the second time in the nation’s 70-year chequered history amid accusations of manipulation by the powerful military and concerns over the participation of Islamic hardliners in large numbers.
According to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), 3,459 candidates are contesting from 272 general seats of the National Assembly, while 8,396 candidates are running for 577 general seats of the four provincial assemblies.
There are 105.96 million registered voters in the country. The run up to the July 25 elections have seen a massive crackdown on the media and allegations that the military has secretly backed the campaign of former cricketer Imran Khan while targeting his political opponents.
In the run up to the elections, the country witnessed a series of attacks on candidates and campaign rallies, including one that killed 151 people in Balochistan province.
A fierce battle is expected between Sharif’s PML-N and Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) in Punjab, the most populous province often known for deciding the next government in the country.
For the first time in 2013, a civilian government in Pakistan completed its five-year term.
As the second democratic transition of power is just around the corner, the ECP has taken elaborate measures to ensure that elections are held peacefully and in a fair and transparent manner.
More than 1.6 million polling staff will perform duties on the election day. About 400,000 police officers and 371,000 army troops have been deployed across the country.
More than 85,000 polling stations have been set up. The voting will start at 8.00 am and will continue till 6.00 pm.
The counting will be done on the spot and results will be announced within 24 hours after the polling. The election campaign concluded at midnight yesterday after about two months. All parties have claimed that they will grab most of the seats.
While several polls put Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf marginally ahead of rivals other surveys suggest the result is too close to call.
A supporter of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), wears a party cap with a photo of him and assassinated former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, as he waits with others to welcome him during a campaign gathering, ahead of general elections, at the airport in Karachi – Reuters
In this picture taken on June 21, 2018, the head of Pakistani militant organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Hafiz Saeed (C), attends an election campaign meeting in Islamabad.Pakistans politicians, including PM hopeful Imran Khan, are mainstreaming extremism by invoking hardline issues like blasphemy to get votes, analysts say, warning the tactic could deepen sectarian fractures and potentially spill into violence – AFP
The head of Sunni Muslim religious party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA), Khadim Hussain Rizvi (C), attends an election campaign rally in Karachi.Pakistan’s politicians, including PM hopeful Imran Khan, are mainstreaming extremism by invoking hardline issues like blasphemy to get votes, analysts say, warning the tactic could deepen sectarian fractures and potentially spill into violence – AFP
In this picture taken on June 28, 2018, Pakistani workers print election posters with an image of the head of Sunni Muslim religious party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA), Khadim Hussain Rizvi (top), for the upcoming parliamentary elections at a printing press in Rawalpindi – AFP
Pakistani supporters of the Sunni Muslim religious party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYRA) ride on bikes with election posters displaying party head Khadim Hussain Rizvi during an election campaign rally in Karachi. – AFP
Supporters of Pakistani cricket star-turned-politician and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan (unseen) stand behind barbed wire during a campaign meeting ahead of the general election in Lahore on July 23, 2018 – AFP
Pakistani army soldiers examine a box ahead of the elections in that country that will take place on Wednesday – AFP
Shahbaz Sharif, brother of ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and leader of Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) reacts as he addresses his supporters during a campaign rally ahead of general elections in the Lyari neighborhood in Karachi – Reuters
Pakistani politician Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, addresses his supporters during an election campaign in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday, July 23, 2018. Pakistan will hold general elections on July 25 – PTI
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, chairman of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), speaks to supporters using hologram technology during election campaign in Islamabad – Reuters