Pakistan voted on Wednesday for the country’s second consecutive democratic transfer of power.
Polling began at 8AM across the country’s 85,307 polling stations and continued until 6PM despite calls by several major parties, including PML-N, PPP and PTI, to extend the polling time by an hour.
The election campaign was marred by violence with three candidates killed in targetted attacks and culminated with a suicide blast outside a polling station in Quetta which claimed at least 30 lives.
However, undeterred, several of Pakistan’s nearly 106 million registered voters stepped out to cast their ballot, including women in areas where they previously stood disenfranchised due to various issues.
The United States is monitoring the situation in Pakistan, a spokesperson for the Department of State said Tuesday night, just a few hours ahead of the commencement of the highly-anticipated general election 2018.
The State Department is continuing to monitor the situation in Pakistan on Election Day, the spokesperson said, adding that hundreds of thousands of Pakistani citizens will be casting their votes in the general election.
Electoral fraud is always a concern in third world democracies and as are facilities. The parties had complained of “a slow voting process” and thus sought more time to facilitate voters — a request that was dismissed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
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. Pakistan is significant entity in the region, a nuclear power, the country leading the fight on the ground against extremism and over the last decade has cemented its place as one China’s major partners in trade, through the silk route.
So much global interest in Pakistani politics, with so much outside and internal interference. Keep an eye on how the drama unfolds.
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