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    General Election 2018: Polling begins across Pakistan

    General Election 2018: Polling begins across Pakistan

    Pakistan witnesses its second democratic transfer of power after polls open countrywide
     
    Pakistan's nearly 106 million registered voters have a chance to choose their representatives in the national and provincial assemblies — as well as their next prime minister — as the country goes for its 11th General Election on July 25.
    Polling began at 8AM and will conclude, without any break, at 6PM across the country's 85,307 polling stations, of which 17,007 have been declared "highly sensitive".
    As many as 12,570 candidates are contesting for a total of 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the general election.

    LIVE UPDATES

    9:11AM: MQM-P leader Farooq Sattar casts his vote in Karachi. Speaking to the media, Sattar said the next five years are going to be "the most important years" for his party. He also termed today as the "most important day in the history of Pakistan's elections". MQM-P leader said voters should be facilitated in casting their votes. "Time is short and there are 2,000-3,000 voters registered at some polling stations," he said.

    9:05AM: Election commission of Pakistan says media accreditation required to enter polling stations. Electoral body says cameras are allowed inside polling stations, however, phones are strictly prohibited. 

    8:52AM: PPP leader Khurshid Ahmed Shah casts vote in NA-207's Islamia College polling station No 29.

    8:44AM: Voting delayed at polling station No 173 in NA-59 constituency.

    8:35AM: Voting fails to begin at Surjani polling station No 69 in NA-252.

    8:34AM: Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari and sister Aseefa Bhutto Zardari cast their vote in Nawabshah. 
    Photo: Bakhtawar Bhutto Zardari Instagram 

    8:33AM: Voting fails to begin at polling station 22 in PS-24 Sukkur constituency. A large crowd of voters gathered outside the polling station. The polling process will commence shortly after the compilation of voting lists. 

    8:25AM - JUI-F leader Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman cast his vote in NA238, Higher Secondary School Abdul Khel polling station. Speaking to the media after casting his vote, he said voting is a responsibility and it is important to use the right to vote. He urged the public to sincerely decide on their votes. The JUI-F leader said, "We are perturbed over one of the country's leadership being put behind bars." He also said that the situation is now different and he believes that change will come.
    8:10AM - PTI leader Asad Umar casts vote in NA-54 Islamabad at polling stations 162. 

    8:07AM - PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif casts vote in Lahore, urges citizens to use their constitutional right. Shehbaz asks masses to vote for PML-N. Speaking to the media outside a polling station in Model Town, the PML-N president vowed that if given a chance his party will change Pakistan's destiny, end unemployment, improve education/health, and build the Diamer-Bhasha dam.

    8:00AM - Polling begins across Pakistan.

    For a smooth polling process, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has deployed staff of around 1.6 million people at polling stations across the country.
    A Rangers official stands guard as ECP staff receive election materials in Karachi on Tuesday. Photo: Reuters
    Guarding the ECP staff and voters will be 449,465 policemen and over 370,000 military personnel. 
    In a special message on Tuesday, Chief Election Commissioner Justice (retd) Sardar Raza Khan urged voters to come out of their homes and fulfil their national duty of casting the ballot.
    A public holiday has been declared across the country on Wednesday in order to facilitate the voting process.
    Pakistan's National Assembly comprises a total of 342 members, of which 272 will be directly elected today whereas the rest — 60 seats reserved for women and 10 for religious minorities — are selected later through proportional representation among parties with more than five per cent of the vote. 
    A party can only form the government if it manages to clinch 172 seats in total. 

    ECP reveals method to do away with fake votes

    The national electoral body said late Tuesday night it had formulated a method to do away with fake votes from the process by allowing tender votes to be cast instead.
    If a voter brings to attention a fake vote, the ECP noted that they will be asked to cast a tender vote in its place. The team at the polling station will verify the person who highlighted the fake vote and that it will count the tender votes separately.
    In order for this to work, the name of any voter, who brings to light a fake vote, will be added to the tender list so that all of the fake votes can be identified.

    Election material delivered amid tight security 

    Election material, including ballot boxes, seals, polling booths, ink, ballot papers, and other necessary items, was delivered to polling stations across the country amid tight security on Tuesday.
    The returning officers, who were handed the election material by the ECP earlier this week, delivered it to the presiding officers at the polling stations under the supervision of police and the army.
    Electioneering officially ended across the country late Monday night as per the ECP's rules.
    The midnight deadline brought to an end a hectic and deadly period of campaigning which saw scores of small-and-large-scale political rallies as well as terrorist attacks on election candidates and gatherings. 

    Constituencies where polls have been postponed

    Polls have been postponed on NA-103 (Faisalabad) NA-60 (Rawalpindi), PP-103 (Faisalabad), PK-99 (Dera Ismail Khan), PB-35 (Mastung), PP-87 (Mainwali), PK-78 (Peshawar) and PS-87 (Malir).

    ECP installs result management system 

    The Election Commission of Pakistan has installed a result management system ahead of General Elections 2018. The ECP said it has successfully tested the service twice. 
    Moreover, the authority has also prepared a mobile application for users. The presiding officer who will dispatch results successfully will receive Rs1,000 as a reward.

    Head of CW Observers Group urges Pakistanis to vote 

    Former President of Nigeria and head of Commonwealth Observers Group, General (Retd) Abdulsalami Abubakar has appealed to all Pakistani registered voters to come out of their homes, businesses and workstations and cast their votes for the candidates of their choice.
    “Come out and vote for your candidates, whether its rain or sunshine,” Abubakar said during an interview with Geo News in the capital. 

    NADRA issues CNICs to 650,000 citizens 

    The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) has issued CNICs to 650,000 citizens in five days, which will enable them to cast their votes. 
    According to a NADRA spokesperson, about 300,000 CNICs are ready to be delivered, the Radio Pakistan reported. NADRA offices remained open till at 9pm on Tuesday to carry out the task.

    The world watches

    In a statement late Tuesday, the British High Commissioner to Pakistan, Thomas Drew, sent "best wishes" to the citizens as the country heads to polling stations in just a few hours. He stressed that it is "a big day".
    "Best wishes to the millions of Pakistani men and women who will be exercising their democratic right - casting their vote to shape the prosperous and secure future this country deserves," Drew wrote on Twitter.
    The United States' State Department is continuing to monitor the situation in Pakistan on Election Day, a spokesperson said Tuesday night, adding that hundreds of thousands of Pakistani citizens will be casting their votes in the general election.
    Washington offers its support and encouragement to all Pakistani people in exercising their democratic right to cast their votes in a peaceful manner, the spokesperson stressed.
    The US supports free and fair elections throughout the world, including in Pakistan, they explained.
    COVER IMAGE: Electoral workers load election materials into a vehicle after collecting them from a distribution point ahead of general election in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, July 24, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

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