AIRLINK 69.92 Increased By ▲ 4.72 (7.24%)
BOP 5.46 Decreased By ▼ -0.11 (-1.97%)
CNERGY 4.50 Decreased By ▼ -0.06 (-1.32%)
DFML 25.71 Increased By ▲ 1.19 (4.85%)
DGKC 69.85 Decreased By ▼ -0.11 (-0.16%)
FCCL 20.02 Decreased By ▼ -0.28 (-1.38%)
FFBL 30.69 Increased By ▲ 1.58 (5.43%)
FFL 9.75 Decreased By ▼ -0.08 (-0.81%)
GGL 10.12 Increased By ▲ 0.11 (1.1%)
HBL 114.90 Increased By ▲ 0.65 (0.57%)
HUBC 132.10 Increased By ▲ 3.00 (2.32%)
HUMNL 6.73 Increased By ▲ 0.02 (0.3%)
KEL 4.44 No Change ▼ 0.00 (0%)
KOSM 4.93 Increased By ▲ 0.04 (0.82%)
MLCF 36.45 Decreased By ▼ -0.55 (-1.49%)
OGDC 133.90 Increased By ▲ 1.60 (1.21%)
PAEL 22.50 Decreased By ▼ -0.04 (-0.18%)
PIAA 25.39 Decreased By ▼ -0.50 (-1.93%)
PIBTL 6.61 Increased By ▲ 0.01 (0.15%)
PPL 113.20 Increased By ▲ 0.35 (0.31%)
PRL 30.12 Increased By ▲ 0.71 (2.41%)
PTC 14.70 Decreased By ▼ -0.54 (-3.54%)
SEARL 57.55 Increased By ▲ 0.52 (0.91%)
SNGP 66.60 Increased By ▲ 0.15 (0.23%)
SSGC 10.99 Increased By ▲ 0.01 (0.09%)
TELE 8.77 Decreased By ▼ -0.03 (-0.34%)
TPLP 11.51 Decreased By ▼ -0.19 (-1.62%)
TRG 68.61 Decreased By ▼ -0.01 (-0.01%)
UNITY 23.47 Increased By ▲ 0.07 (0.3%)
WTL 1.34 Decreased By ▼ -0.04 (-2.9%)
BR100 7,399 Increased By 104.2 (1.43%)
BR30 24,136 Increased By 282 (1.18%)
KSE100 70,910 Increased By 619.8 (0.88%)
KSE30 23,377 Increased By 205.6 (0.89%)

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan temporarily suspended mobile phone services on Thursday to strengthen security as voting began in the country’s national election, the interior ministry said.

The government’s decision comes amidst a rise in attacks in the run-up to the election and a day after jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan urged his supporters to wait outside polling booths after voting until results are announced.

“As a result of the recent incidents of terrorism in the country precious lives have been lost, security measures are essential to maintain the law and order situation and deal with possible threats, hence the temporary suspension of mobile services across the country,” the interior ministry said in a message on X.

Two blasts near election offices on Wednesday killed 26 people in the southwestern province of Balochistan.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blasts in a message on its Telegram channel.

The country is on high alert with tens of thousands of troops and paramilitary soldiers on duty across the country, including at polling stations. Pakistan also said it was closing its borders with Iran and Afghanistan for the day for security purposes.

Unofficial first results in the election are expected a few hours after voting closes at 5 p.m. (1200 GMT) and a clear picture is likely to emerge early on Friday.

The main contests are expected to be between candidates backed by Imran, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the last national election, and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of three-time premier Nawaz Sharif, who is considered the front-runner.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 35-year-old son of former premier Benazir Bhutto, has also run an aggressive campaign in an outside bid for the top office.

In spite of the bitter winter cold, long queues began forming at polling stations hours before voting was due to start. “The country is at stake, why should I come late?” said 86-year-old Mumtaz, a housewife a decade older than Pakistan itself as she queued up in Islamabad.

Businessman Imran Sheikh, 52, said he was voting for an independent candidate backed by Imran to “make it right”.

“They are trying everything in their power to make sure people don’t vote,” he said.

“But many people like me and others I know will make sure we get out and vote,” he added.

Switched places

The two former prime ministers – Imran and Nawaz – have switched places since the last election in 2018.

If the election does not result in a clear majority for anyone, as analysts are predicting, tackling multiple challenges will be tricky - foremost being seeking a new bailout programme from International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the current one expires in March.

Smaller political parties could play a crucial role in the formation of a government that will need 169 seats in the 336-member National Assembly. Voters directly elect 266 members while there are 70 reserved seats - 60 for women and 10 for non-Muslims - allotted according to the number of seats won by each party.

Independents, many of whom are being backed by Imran, are free to join any party if they win, which could swing fortunes after the vote. Imran has said his candidates will not back Sharif or Bhutto Zardari.

Comments

200 characters
Mushtaqq Feb 08, 2024 05:30pm
I have to agree with the comment that economic situation is so grave and the solution so painful that anyone who forms government will be the loser.
thumb_up Recommended (0) reply Reply