Pakistan polls to decide fate of over 23,000 candidates

Islamabad, May 10 (IANS) The fate of 23,079 candidates in the race for Pakistan’s National Assembly and provincial assembly seats will be decided Saturday.

Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim said Friday that the Election Commission of Pakistan has completed all arrangements to hold free, fair and transparent elections, reported Xinhua.

“The power of vote can change destiny of the nation,” he said in a statement, calling upon the people to exercise their right of franchise without any fear in the May 11 elections.

Pakistan will go to the landmark parliamentary polls Saturday to elect new government for the next five years, reported Xinhua.

The 20-day election campaign ended at midnight Thursday with mainstream parties holding big public meetings in the capital Islamabad and the eastern city of Lahore.

Election for 342 seats of the National Assembly and 728 seats in the four provincial assemblies will be held simutaneously May 11. Polling will begin at 8 a.m., and will continue until 5 p.m. without any break.

The Election Commission’s data shows that a total of 23,079 candidates are in the fray for the National Assembly and provincial assembly seats. There are a total of 86,162,639 registered voters including 37,548,676 female voters.

Security is a major issue following a string of Taliban attacks and their threats to disrupt the election process Saturday.

A military spokesman said that nearly 70,000 troops have been deployed in sensitive areas across Pakistan to aid the police and other law enforcement agencies.

Chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Hakimullah Mehsood, has in a letter warned of attacks on the polling day. Taliban attacks have killed over 100 people and injured nearly 300 others during the election campaign. At least three candidates were killed in attacks where elections have been postponed.

Several dozen political and religious parties are taking part in the elections. But, the main contest will take place among the three major parties — Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of President Asif Ali Zaradri, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) of cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan.

The others in the fray include Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP), PML-Q, Jamiat ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), and Jamaat-e-Islami.

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