General Elections 2018: Voting in pictures

Marcus Newton
July 25, 2018

Police said the attacker was likely a suicide bomber who struck near a police vehicle parked outside a polling station in the suburbs of Quetta.

Thirty-five people were wounded, several reportedly in critical condition, in the attack in the provincial capital of Baluchistan, raising concerns the death toll could rise, according to hospital official Jaffar Kakar, a doctor.

There are more than 105 million eligible voters in Pakistan, 59 million men and 46 million women.

Shehbaz Sharif, president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, receives his ballot at a polling station in Lahore.

The incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is looking to fight off a challenge by the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.

Sharif's PML-N has sought to turn the vote into a referendum on Pakistan's democracy, and has said it was campaigning to protect the "sanctity of the vote".

Khan's party spokesman, Fawad Chaudhry, showed confidence even before the counting was finished, saying in a tweet "Congratulations to the nation on a new Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan".

Pakistan citizens went to the polls a few hours before the blast amid heavy security following the assassination of a candidate.

The PML-N, on the other hand, says it is the target of the alleged military machinations, with candidates under pressure and Nawaz Sharif ousted from power a year ago and jailed over a corruption conviction days before the vote, removing Khan's most risky foe from the race.

Pakistan's military deployed 350,000 troops countrywide at polling stations.

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A suicide bombing in the southwestern city of Quetta, claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, killed at least 31 people and cast a shadow over voting day.

The election comes as Pakistan's economy is in crisis, with the rupee's 20 percent decline spiking inflation and dwindling foreign currency reserves likely to force the second International Monetary Fund bailout since 2013.

"My vote and my heart are both with Imran Khan", said Peshawar university student Naveed Ashraf, 24, who wants Khan to improve the quality of education and reduce school and college fees.

As many as 12,570 candidates are contesting for a total of 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the general election.

Around 50 political and religious parties are taking part in the elections, which have been marred by allegations of "manipulation" and "engineering". The group also claimed an attack earlier this month that killed 149 people at an election rally in Baluchistan province.

If successful, the elections will mark only the second time a civilian government has handed power to another since the country's independence in 1947.

Former prime minister Sharif, the supremo of the PML-N who was jailed this month after being convicted in a corruption case, also accused the military of pressuring the judiciary to convict him.

The campaign has been characterized by "blatant, aggressive and unabashed attempts to manipulate" the outcome, with media being silenced and the intimidation of candidates, according to Pakistan's Independent Human Rights Commission.

A further 70 seats for women and minorities are awarded proportionally based on the voting percentages.

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