37 die in violence, as Pak votes to elect govt

Imran Khan gets EC notice for violating code of conduct; result will be out today.

Islamabad : At least 37 people were killed and several injured mostly in a suicide bombing in Balochistan on Wednesday as millions of voters thronged polling stations across the country to exercise their franchise in the 11th general election. Counting has begun at certain polling stations after the voting ended.

The Balochistan bombing targeted the convoy of Deputy Inspector General of Police Abdul Razzaq Cheema near a polling station. It left 31 persons, including some policemen, dead. The senior police official escaped unhurt, Geo News reported. Civil Hospital Quetta officials confirmed the casualties.

The area was crowded as people were making their way to vote at Tameer-e-Nau Model School. Polling was halted at the polling station, only to resume later.

While polling stations opened for voting at 8 am, enthusiastic citizens queued up outside their respective stations as early as 7 am. The PML-N had sent a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner, seeking an extension in time by one hour. But the poll body refused.

Results for the 11th general election are expected to trickle in immediately with the final outcome likely by Thursday morning or afternoon, election officials said.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (EC) issued a notice to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan for voting publicly at his constituency and in front of the cameras, a violation of the electoral body’s code of conduct, reported The Dawn.

Meanwhile, a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) worker was killed and two others injured as party activists clashed with Awami National Party (ANP) workers outside a polling station in Nawan Kali in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, according to Express News.

Another person was killed in firing outside a Mirpurkhas polling station in Dighri area.

In a separate incident, one person was killed while five people were injured in a cracker blast outside a political camp in Larkana.

A mini-jeep taking voters to polling stations in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa fell into a deep gorge, resulting in the death of four people.

The workers of the two parties clashed in Mardan as well. Several people have been injured in the firing incident. Following the clash. Police took control of the affected area. Two people were injured in a firing incident in Dera Murad Jamali in Balochistan.

In a separate incident, four people were injured in a blast outside a political camp in Larkana in Sindh province, the home of the Bhutto family.

Independent candidate Jibran Nasir said Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan supporters attacked a facilitation camp he had set up in Chandio Village in Karachi.

As many as 12,570 candidates are in the field for a total of 849 seats of the national and provincial assemblies in the general election. Nearly 106 million people were eligible to vote.

The battle is mainly between three parties: Shahbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Imran Khan’s PTI.

In an effort to increase voters’ turnout, the Election Commission declared a public holiday on Wednesday.

Over four lakh security personnel have been deployed at polling stations across the country to maintain law and order and take action against harassment, after the nation witnessed one of the bloodiest campaigns, including the July 13 bombing that killed 150.

According to a poll official, 5,878 polling stations were declared “highly sensitive” — official euphemism to mean they are prone to violence — in Sindh; 5,487 in Punjab and Islamabad; 3,874 in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA and 1,768 in Balochistan.

The election is being held as emotions run high over a graft case that led to the imprisonment of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz. Sharif’s PML-N has condemned the legal cases against its members to force them to leave the party and the efforts to prevent the party from emerging victorious in the election as it had done in 2013 by getting an absolute majority.

The election is the second in Pakistan’s history in which a government was able to complete its term. Military dictators have ruled the country for half of the 71 years of its existence since its founding in 1947.

Minorities not allowed to cast votes in Islamabad: Report

Islamabad: Some members belonging to the minority communi­ties were not allowed to cast their votes in a constituency in Pakistan’s capital during the general election in the Muslim-majority nation, a media report said on Wednesday. The incident occured in Islamabad’s NA-54 constituency, the Dawn reported.

Awami Workers Party complained that minority voters at the polling station were not being allowed to vote as the polling staff had no voter lists for minorities.

Hindus, Christians and Ahmadis among other religious groups in Pakistan are routinely discriminated against.

The number of non-Muslim voters or religious minorities in Pakistan has climbed to 3.63 million in 2018 with the Hindus at 1.77 million maintaining their majority among the religious minority electorate. The incident come as the country’s minorities are looking for better representation after the polls.

Hafiz Saeed casts vote in Lahore

Lahore: Mumbai attack mastermind and JuD chief Hafiz Saeed asked the people to cast vote for “Pakistan’s ideology” as he cast his vote in the general election in which his son and son-in-law are contesting candidates.

He cast his vote in Lahore’s Wafaqi Colony amid concerns in the country over the participation of Islamist hardliners in election in large numbers. The Milli Muslim League (MML), the political wing of Saeed’s banned Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD), has fielded 260 candidates for the national and provincial polls under the umbrella of little known outfit Allah-o-Akbar Tehreek (AAT).

Hafiz Talha Saeed, the son of Saeed, is contesting from NA-91 seat from Sargodha (200 km from Lahore), the home town of JuD leader. Saeed’s son-in-law Khalid Waleed is a candidate in PP-167. The candidates are contesting under the AAT banner as the election commission has denied registration to MML.

Talking to reporters after casting his vote, Saeed said the people should come out of their homes and vote for “Pakistan’s ideology”. “I wish the election turns out to be useful for the country,” he said, urging people to vote for “chair’ — the AAT symbol. The JuD was declared as a terrorist outfit by the US in June 2014. The group is a front for LeT, a terror group that conducted the 2008 Mumbai attack. Saeed carries a $10 million bounty for his role in terror activities.

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