Pakistan voting concludes, results anticipated soon amidst allegations of manipulation | Election Updates

Pakistan’s 12th general election in Lahore, Pakistan has been declared closed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after raucous protests, a mobile service suspension, and bomb blasts that killed at least nine people. The ECP has stated that ballot counting has begun and results are expected to start coming in during the night.

Nawaz Sharif of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is considered the frontrunner in the election. His chief political rival, ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan, was barred from participating due to a corruption conviction and is currently serving multiple sentences in jail. However, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party still managed to put up independent candidates in a coordinated campaign.

Former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) cast his vote in Sindh, where the party is particularly strong. The PPP is hopeful that it can spring a surprise and emerge victorious.

The government announced the suspension of mobile services across the country due to security concerns, but multiple bomb blasts still occurred during the day, resulting in at least nine deaths. The closure of the polls was hailed as a “momentous occasion” by interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar.

Voter turnout during the election appeared subdued in various parts of the country, and there were complaints of polling staff absence and delayed voting in some areas. Pakistan historically has seen low voter turnout in elections, and reports suggested that the turnout was lacklustre on election day.

Voters appeared to be split between PTI and PML-N, with some expressing support for Imran Khan and others for Nawaz Sharif. In Balochistan, voter turnout for women remained low compared to the rest of the country.

The country’s next government faces the challenge of addressing an economy in crisis and a volatile security situation. Many Pakistanis are hopeful that the elections will produce a government capable of bringing stability to the nation. However, analysts have warned that the targeting of Imran Khan may affect the next government’s legitimacy and its ability to address the country’s challenges.

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