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Pakistan goes to Polls Today, Blasts rock Karachi

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It is for the first time in Pakistan’s 65-year history that an elected government will finish its term and hand over power to a democratically elected successor. This year the election is significant for many political parties and warriors. Despite violence and blasts in Karachi where five people were killed, the voting is underway across the country.

The poll began at 08:00 am local time (03:00 GMT) and will close at 5:00 pm. Around 86,189,802 will cast their votes at 73,000 polling stations today. More than 600,000 security and army personnel have been deployed to guard against further attacks by Taliban.

The election campaign has been marred by violence in which more than 100 people have been killed. Multiple bomb blasts in the port city of Karachi on Saturday left at least ten people dead and several others wounded. However, the Taliban attacks could stop the polls to be held today. The country is holding historic elections pitting former cricketer Imran Khan against the previous governments that have been toppled by military coups or sacked by presidents with powerful army.

Popular cricketer Imran Khan has challenged the dominance of the country’s two main political parties. Following a freak incident this week at a political rally in which he fell 15 feet off a forklift, fracturing three vertebrae and a rib, the support for his have increased. The incident would no doubt give him political mileage and he may get sympathy votes. However, it is the most unpredictable lection Pakistan had ever had.

It is believed that the violence and Taliban attacks would benefit Islamist parties including Khan and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, because they were able to campaign more freely. The Oxford-educated Khan has emerged as a popular leader in the past two years with the simple message of “change” in the country. He successfully influenced millions of Pakistanis – especially urban middle class youth – who believe the traditional politicians are more interested to be wealthy through corruption than governing.

However, he is facing challenge from two main political parties dominated the Pakistan politics – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N. They ruled the country five times in the past 25 years.

As the common citizens of Pakistan are unhappy with the outgoing PPP government for old-style politics, inflation and corruption, the political pundits see the Pakistan Muslim League-N could emerge as the winner in the polls. Sharif could be the next PM, who is best known for testing Pakistan’s first nuclear weapon in 1998. The votes may come in favour of him, who was toppled in a military coup by then-army chief Gen. Pervez Musharraf in 1999 and spent years in exile in Saudi Arabia before returning to the country in 2007.

However, everything is uncertain. The time will tell who will next rule the country.

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