Islamabad, Jul 25: The counting of votes for Pakistan General Elections 2018 began on Wednesday at various poll booths in the country. The voting began earlier in the day at 8 AM across 85,307 polling stations in the nation and continued until 6 PM.
Even as the doors of polling stations closed at 6 PM, voters present inside the booths were allowed to cast their votes. The Election Commission had earlier rejected the request by major parties, including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), to extend the voting time by an hour.
Pakistanis voted in a tense election as at least 35 people lose their lives in an ISIS suicide attack and poll-related violence, amidst charges of manipulation by the country’s Army and concerns over the participation of Islamic hardliners, including Mumbai terror attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed.
List of Seats Won by Each Party in National Assembly (272 seats)
Hours after polling began, an Islamic State suicide bomber blew himself up outside a polling station in Bhosa Mandi area of Balochistan’s provincial capital, Quetta, killing 31 people, including policemen. In separate incidents, four persons were killed in poll-related violence. Clashes erupted between rival parties outside several polling stations, reports said.
However, undeterred, a majority of Pakistan’s nearly 106 million registered voters came out to cast their ballot, including women in areas where they previously stood disenfranchised due to various issues.
While over 12,500 candidates of over 100 parties are contesting the 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the country’s 11th General Election. The main contest is between Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan.
An exit poll suggested that both the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) helmed by Imran Khan and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) running under form Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif were involved in a neck-and-neck fight. The PPP, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, is also in the race.