Pakistan went to polls: All you need to know about the country?s 11 th general election

By Prarthana Mitra

With over 105 million registered voters, 1.6 million electoral staff, 800,000 security
personnel and three leading candidates, Pakistan went to polls on Wednesday.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s PTI has the lead as the counting of votes continues.

Run-up to the D-Day

After the dirtiest campaign in the country’s history, millions of Pakistanis braved alleged
pressure and threats from the Armed Forces, to vote in a new Prime Minister.
Hoping for a rare democratic and the country’s second civilian-to-civilian transition of
power, frontrunners Shehbaz Sharif (PML-N), Imran Khan (PTI) and Bilawal Bhutto (PPP)
ran for 272 contestable seats in Pakistan’s parliamentary and provincial elections. All three
mainstream political parties are equally confident of getting the highest number of votes and
seats, but the people of Pakistan have made that decision for them.

Key moments from the day

PTI’s Imran Khan who managed to swing a lot of voters and rival politicians over to his side
in the run-up, cast his vote in Islamabad last morning, urging voters to exercise their
democratic right. “Today I urge all of Pakistan to get out and vote; just vote for any party,” he
told reporters, before adding, “This is the most important election in this country’s history. It’s
an opportunity to defeat the status quo.”
Closing at 6 PM, the polls enjoyed a high turnout but not without sporadic violence despite
military surveillance being on high alert.

In the western city of Quetta, a suicide attack near the polling station killed 29 people
including two policemen. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS)
group later claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Al Jazeera. In Swabi, a
shooting incident between two rival parties, purportedly Awami National Party and PTI, left
one dead and two others injured.

Voters speak

74-year-old Amna Bibi told Al Jazeera that she was voting for the PTI in Lahore’s NA-125
constituency, as she believes Imran Khan can bring change to Pakistan. Rabia Nusrat, on the
other hand, voted for PML-N because she believes that the former party leader Nawaz Sharif
was unjustly convicted for corruption earlier this month.

In Lahore, fast food restaurant owner and PTI supporter Waqas Jamshed asked, “As long as
there is corruption, how can there be development?”
Voicing his support for the Sharifs, Shahid Bashir argued, “With the PML-N, we see them
doing some work,” The 50-year-old who has been driving a rickshaw in Lahore for the last 18
years added pragmatically, “Look, everyone steals a bit, but at least with the PML-N we can
see the work being done.”
Another PML-N voter Younis Naseeb alleged, “Now our army, our intelligence agencies and
the judiciary are taking sides in politics, they have become touts for the PTI," echoing
widespread allegations that the Pakistan’s powerful military pressurised politicians ahead of
the polls.
Whether cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan can displace PML-N’s run in Punjab, the
political heartland of Pakistan, remains to be seen. But voters are certainly enthusiastic about
change, after the slew of corruption charges levied against former Prime Minister Nawaz
Sharif. And they believe Imran Khan can be the face of that change.

Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius 

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