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It’s Imran Khan vs Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan elections 2018: Latest in 10 points

The Pakistan election 2018 is seen as direct contest between former flamboyant cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan against the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

world Updated: Jul 25, 2018 15:13 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Pakistan Election 2018,Imran Khan,Pakistan election
A street is decorated with the flags and banners of political parties ahead of a general election in Rawalpindi, Pakistan.(Reuters Photo)

Pakistan is voting today for the country’s third straight civilian government, with more than 11,000 candidates vying for 270 seats in the parliament and 570 seats in four provincial assemblies. The election is seen as direct contest between former flamboyant cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan against the party of jailed ex-prime pinister Nawaz Sharif. Most forecasters are predicting a hung assembly that will require a coalition government as the razor thin polling lead by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party over Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is unlikely to result in a majority from the 272 elected seats in the National Assembly. Today’s polls, dubbed as country’s “dirtiest election” are Imran Khan’s best shot at power after a campaign marred by allegations of military interference and a series of deadly attacks. More than 19 million new voters, including millions of women and youth, may prove decisive in the close race.

Here’s your 10-point guide to Pakistan elections

1) Up to 800,000 police and military forces have been stationed at more than 85,000 polling stations across the country ahead of the poll, which is meant to be a rare democratic transition of power in the nuclear-armed country which has been ruled by the powerful military for roughly half its history.

2) There are 85,307 polling stations across Pakistan and more than 11,000 candidates are vying for 270 seats in parliament and 570 seats in four provincial assemblies. Voting for two parliament seats and six seats in provincial assemblies has been postponed for a later date, due to attacks on candidates or disqualifications. One candidate in the Sindh provincial assembly was unopposed and has already secured that seat.

3) Of the 106,000 eligible voters in Pakistan, 47 million are women. The Election Commission has said that any election that does not have at least 10 per cent turnout among women would be nullified. The rule was introduced this time because in 2013 some deeply religious conservative areas had forbidden women to vote.

4) Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf and Awami National Party workers have clashed in PK-57 constituency of Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. According to local media reports, one PTI worker has died and two others have been injured in a firing incident related to the clash. Also, there are reports of a violent clash between PML-N and PTI workers in Rajanpur. Police have been despatched to get the situation under control.

5) The campaign too has been rattled by violence, with candidates from several parties targeted. An attack claimed by the Islamic State group earlier this month in southwestern Baluchistan province killed 149 people, including a parliamentary candidate. Another 300 people were wounded. On the eve of elections, militants lobbed grenades and opened fire at a military convoy escorting election staffers and voting material in the district of Turbat on the eve of the elections, killing four troops.

6) In Bani Gala, a suburb of the capital Islamabad, media massed outside the polling station where Imaran Khan is due to cast his vote; while in Lahore heavy contingents of police and military could be seen ahead of polls opening.

7) Cricket legend Imaran and brother of jailed former PM Nawaz Sharif, Shehbaz are frontrunners to become PM. Imran Khan, who ran his campaign on populist promises to build a “New Pakistan”, enjoys genuine popularity across this country and cordial relations with Pakistan’s domineering military. Nawaz Sharif, who was jailed this month after being convicted in a corruption case, has accused the military of pressuring the judiciary to convict him

8) It is unclear what the result of the election will be, with pollsters saying the election was “still up for grabs”. “Our predictions are very murky right now,” Bilal Gilani, executive director of pollster Gallup Pakistan, told AFP on Tuesday.

9) Malala Yousafzai, the youngest ever Nobel peace prize laureate, has encouraged people to get out to vote today. “The people of Pakistan - especially women - the power is in your hands. Get up, go and vote! Democracy shall win!,” she tweeted this morning. In 2012, Malalast was shot by a Taliban gunman for her work campaigning for girls’ education.

10) Polls opened at 8am local time (about forty minutes ago) and close at 6pm. Preliminary results should begin to trickle in by around 8pm (roughly 12 hours from now), and we should have a good idea of overall results by around 2am local time.

First Published: Jul 25, 2018 12:07 IST