Pakistan will go to polls today to elect a new Parliament and Provincial Assemblies. The voting will start at 8 AM local time and will continue till 6 in the evening.
The main contest is between three main players, Shahbaz Sharif-led PML-N, cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Pakistan People’s Party of Bilawal Bhutto. The counting will be taken up immediately after the polls and the results will be announced within 24 hours.
Over 70 years of Pakistan’s history, the civilian transfer of power is taking place only for the second time. The run-up to the polls have seen a massive crackdown on the media and allegations that the military has secretly backed the campaign of Imran Khan while targeting his political opponents. The military has ruled Pakistan through various coups for nearly half of the country’s history since its creation in 1947.
Controversy has also arisen over allowing terrorist groups to participate in the poll. The leading among them are Mumbai-terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed-led banned Jamat-ud Dawah’s candidate. His son and son-in-law are also contesting the elections. The US said it is closely monitoring the situation in Pakistan. A State Department spokesperson said, it supports free, fair, transparent and accountable elections in the country.