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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 25 June 2024

Cash-hit Pakistan to vote today: PML-N tipped to emerge as single-largest party

Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidates are contesting the polls independently after the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the election commission to deprive his party of its iconic election symbol cricket ‘bat’

PTI Islamabad Published 08.02.24, 07:26 AM
Members of the polling staff set up a polling station in a school building for the Feb. 8 parliamentary elections, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024.

Members of the polling staff set up a polling station in a school building for the Feb. 8 parliamentary elections, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. AP/PTI

Pakistanis will vote on Thursday to elect a new government to rule the cash-strapped country amid a spree of violence including deadly blasts on the eve of the general elections in which the frontrunner former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is believed to have the backing of the powerful military.

With former Prime Minister Imran Khan in jail, Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is tipped to emerge as the single largest party in the elections.

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Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidates are contesting the polls independently after the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the election commission to deprive his party of its iconic election symbol cricket ‘bat’.

Sharif, 74, will be eying the premiership for a record fourth time in Thursday’s election.

The contest also involves the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who has been declared as the party’s Prime Minister face.

Nearly 650,000 security personnel have been deployed across the country as authorities were busy setting up polling stations to enable more than 12.85 crore registered voters to cast their ballot in the general elections.

Stepped-up security is imperative given the spree of violence with the latest being two devastating bomb blasts targeting election offices on Wednesday in the restive Balochistan province that saw at least 30 people killed and more than 40 others injured.

The Election Commission of Pakistan issued a schedule in December last year to hold the polls and kept the process intact despite the deteriorating security situation.

On Wednesday, election material was shifted to more than 90,000 polling stations under the supervision of respective polling officers who were escorted by police and army soldiers.

On Thursday, polling will begin at 8 am (local time) and continue without any interval till 5 pm. A countrywide public holiday has been declared to enable voters to cast their vote without any hindrance.

Punjab has the most number of 73, 207,896 registered voters followed by Sindh with 26,994,769, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with 21,928,119, Balochistan with 5,371,947 and Federal Capital Islamabad 1,083,029.

According to ECP, a total of 5,121 candidates are in the race for the National Assembly (NA) seats. These include 4807 male, 312 female and two transgenders. For the four provincial assemblies, 12,695 candidates are in the field including 12,123 male, 570 women and two transgenders.

In total 266 NA seats were up for grabs out of 336, but polling was postponed on at least one seat after a candidate was killed in a gun attack in Bajaur. Sixty seats are reserved for women and another 10 for minorities.

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