Violence mars Pak polls, 7 killed
   Date :09-Feb-2024

VOTING concluded across Pakistan on Thursday in an election marred by sporadic violence and connectivity issues after the Government suspended mobile and internet services to foil terror attacks. At least six security personnel were killed and seven others injured on Thursday in two separate attacks by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan's restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces, officials said. In the first incident, unidentified gunmen set off a bomb and then opened fire at a vehicle of security personnel deployed for election security in the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, bordering Afghanistan. Four police officials were killed in the attack, they said. In a separate incident, two Levies and police personnel were killed in Balochistan's Kharan when their vehicle hit a landmine en route to a polling station.
In total 266 National Assembly seats were up for grabs out of 336, but polling was postponed on at least one seat after a candidate was killed in a gun attack in Bajaur. Another 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 for minorities, and are allotted to the winning parties based on proportional representation. A party must win 133 seats out of 265 being contested to form the next government.Counting of votes began in Pakistan following conclusion of the polling on Thursday in an election marred by crackdown on jailed ex-prime minister Imran Khan's party, sporadic violence and connectivity issues after the Government suspended mobile and internet services to foil suspected terror attacks. The polling started at 8.00 AM and continued without any break till 5.00 PM. continued without any break till 5.00 PM. A countrywide public holiday was declared to enable a total of 128,585,760 registered voters to cast their ballots.
The time for voting ended but the people present inside the premises of the polling stations were allowed to cast their votes. The ballot boxes would be unsealed in the presence of the agents of various candidates present inside the polling stations, and counting would be done in the supervision of the presiding officer of each polling station. The presiding officer would prepare the result and announce it publicly. He would also paste the copy of the result on the main gate of the polling station and then also transmit the same to the returning officer through the Election Management System. The returning officers would tabulate the result of constituencies and announce the final result. It is believed that results would start pouring before midnight and most of the results would be available by the morning. The first result is expected after 6.30 pm. Countrywide disruption of cellular and internet services during polls irked the political parties and cast doubts on the transparency of the voting process. Nearly 650,000 security personnel have been deployed across the country.
With former Prime Minister Imran Khan in jail, Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is tipped to emerge as the single largest party in the elections. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) candidates are contesting the polls independently after the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the election commission to deprive his party of its iconic election symbol cricket ‘bat’. Pakistan’s more than two-decades-old fight against terrorism is also unravelling as the rebels have resurged since 2021 after the Afghan Taliban came to power. The new government will find it tougher to deal with the militancy by the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan and Baloch nationalists.