Pakistan votes after controversial, bitter campaign

Pakistan votes after controversial, bitter campaign

Pakistan votes after controversial, bitter campaign

In Pakistan's restive Balochistan province, a suicide blast targeting a police van killed at least 28 people, including five policemen, and almost 30 other were injured in a blast near Quetta's Eastern Bypass, The Express Tribune reported.

Karachi/Peshawar: At least 31 people were killed, including 28 in a suicide blast outside a polling station in Pakistan's Quetta city and 36 others injured as several incidents of violence were reported as the country went to polls. Beyond the 30 killed, another 35 victims were in critical condition, said Kamran Kasi, a doctor at Quetta's Civil Hospital. Get the latest top stories, current affairs, sports, business, entertainment, politics, astrology, spirituality, and many more here only on ABP News.

Pakistani Army soldiers sit guard as polling staff collect electoral material for general elections in Karachi.

Today's election pits Khan, 65, against the party of jailed ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif: The Pakistan Muslim League-N.

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", a reference to a history of political interference by the military.

Speaking to the media, the younger brother of the former Prime Minister urged the masses to vote for the PML-N to change the country's destiny.

Amid the ongoing elections in Pakistan, a blast has been reported in Quetta's Eastern Bypass.

Khan has emerged as a slight favourite in national opinion polls, but the divisive race is likely to come down to Punjab, the country's most populous province, where Sharif's party has clung to its lead in recent surveys.

Pakistan bomb attack
Twitter/@Sagopaak EXPLOSION ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack which killed at least 30 people

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack that took place as thousands head to the poll to elect Pakistan's next leader.

"This is a deplorable and cowardly attack on a day when voters across Pakistan should be casting their ballots in a peaceful environment, without fear or hindrance", Michael Gahler, the EU's chief observer to Pakistan, said. Leading rights activist I.A. Rehman said it was worrying that soldiers will be positioned inside booths where votes are cast.

The unprecedented participation in the election of radical religious groups, including those banned for terrorist links but resurrected and renamed, has also raised concerns - especially for minorities and women - ahead of the voting.

Radical groups such as the Milli Muslim League, linked to Hafiz Saeed, the man accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, are also contesting the polls, though many are running under the banner of smaller, lesser-known parties.

Many experts contend that it will be business as usual whoever wins the election, with the military - which has ruled the country directly or indirectly for much of its 71-year history - remaining Pakistan's de facto ruler. Over 11,000 candidates ran for national and provincial posts, according to election authorities.

Shehbaz Sharif casts his vote.

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.

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