People listen the speech of Pakistani politician Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, telecasting on news channels at a shop in Islamabad, Pakistan. Image Credit: AP

Imran Khan's party claims victory 

Former cricket star Imran Khan declared victory in Pakistan's election, boosting stocks as investors bet he'd be able to form a stable government that could address the nation's financial woes.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or Movement for Justice, said it has emerged as the single largest party and can form the federal government, Naeem ul Haq, a PTI leader told reporters on Thursday in Islamabad as long-delayed counting continued.

Winners

Imran Khan
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)
Shah Mahmood Qureshi
PTI
   
Shahbaz Sharif
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)
Asif Ali Zardari
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP)
   
Hamza Sharif
PML-N
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
PPP
   
 
Shaikh Rashid
Pakistan Awami Muslim League
 


Losers

Maulana Fazalur Rehman
Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA)
Sirajul Haq
MMA
   
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
PML-N
Chaudhary Nisar
Independent
   
 
Asfandyar Wali
Awami National Party (ANP)
 


While Sharif's party and the PPP denounced irregularities in the election, if needed 65-year-old Khan could strike deals with independent lawmakers to form a coalition. In a victory speech, Khan acknowledged that fixing the economy was the greatest challenge and he would implement wide-ranging reforms. He also called for improved trade ties and peace talks with neighbour India and said the two countries needed to end the blame game over the disputed and split region of Kashmir, which both claim in its entirety.

I assure if India takes one step forward, we will take two steps forward, Khan said in a televised broadcast.

Pakistan's next leader will urgently need to deal with a mounting economic crisis: four currency devaluations since December have made it likely the next government will seek another International Monetary Fund bailout. Pakistan's benchmark stock index rose as much as 1.9 percent, poised for the highest since June 21.

The completion of the election clears the path for the IMF negotiation, which is what, in the short-term, investors care most about, said Hasnain Malik, the Dubai-based head of equity research at Exotix Capital. A PTI victory that comes very close to an absolute majority is, at this stage, the most positive outcome for long-term investors interested in seeing better economic governance in Pakistan.

Imran Khan summons party leaders as PTI leads

As early results showed the victory of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf in the general elections, PTI chairman Imran Khan summoned his party leaders on Thursday for consultations at his residence in Bani Gala. According to the sources in the know of the development, the party leaders will discuss and decide the strategies for forming a government.

Khan is expected to ask his party leaders to contact independent candidates from across the Punjab and enlist their support. The meeting will formulate a strategy to counter opponent's allegation that the elections were rigged.

Party position (earlier)

Latest unofficial results show Imran’s party losing a couple of seats. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf is still in the lead with 117 seats  

Latest party position at 1.30pm UAE time

PTI: 117

PML N: 64

PPP: 37

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Jemima congratulates Imran Khan

Jemima Goldsmith, the first wife of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan, has congratulated her former husband on his  victory in Pakistan elections.

"22 years later, after humiliations, hurdles and sacrifices, my sons’ father is Pakistan’s next PM. It’s an incredible lesson in tenacity, belief  & refusal to accept defeat. The challenge now is to remember why he entered politics in the 1st place. Congratulations!," she wrote on twitter.


A file photo of Imran and Jemima.

She has also recounted her experience during Imran Khan’s first election in 1997. “Untested, idealistic and politically naive. I waited up for the call in Lahore with 3 month old Sulaiman,” she wrote.

Someone who has always expressed her love for Pakistan and its people even after the divorce from Imran, she had earlier used twitter to wish Pakistanis a happy election day. 

PTI in a commanding position

With nearly half the votes counted, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, is in a commanding lead.

But supporters of jailed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the counting process was an assault on democracy.

Party position at 10.30am (UAE time)

PTI: 120

PML N: 61

PPP: 40

The stock market shot up nearly 2 per cent in early trading on relief the likely coalition government will not be a weak one. Pakistan faces a mounting economic crisis that is likely to require a bailout by the International Monetary Fund, although PTI has not ruled out seeking succor from China, Islamabad's closest ally, reports Reuters.

Imran’s party increases lead

Former cricketer Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has increased its lead over the rivals in the last hour. It is inching closer to the magic figure of 137, the number of seats needed to form a government. 

Official declaration from the Election Commission is yet to come but here is the latest unofficial party positions at 8.30am (UAE time):

PTI: 119

PML N: 61

PPP: 40

 

 

The latest party position at 7.30am

With counting of votes still underway in the 11th general assembly of Pakistan, PTI supporters across the country started early celebrations in anticipation of their party's victory while PML-N cast doubts over the counting process. Here's the latest party position,according unofficial TV reports.

PTI: 112

PML N: 64

PPP: 44

IND: 18

MMA: 08

 

'No conspiracy' as vote result delayed

Reuters

A top Pakistani election official said results from Wednesday's general election were coming in late because of technical issues, and there was "no conspiracy" in the delay.

"There's no conspiracy, nor any pressure in delay of the results," Babar Yaqoob, secretary of the Election Commission of Pakistan, told reporters on Thursday. "The delay is being caused because the result transmission system has collapsed."

He said he could not set an exact deadline when the full results would be released but it would be as soon as possible.

Chief Election Commisioner Sardar Mohammad Raza later defended the process after Sharif's party and at least four others contesting the elections alleged the counting was manipulated.

"These elections were 100 per cent transparent and fair," Raza said. "There is no stain. Why don't you think the five political parties might be wrong?"

With 30 per cent of the total vote counted, Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), or Pakistan Movement for Justice, was listed by the ECP as leading in 113 of 272 contested National Assembly constituencies.

Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was ahead in 66 constituencies, and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), led by the son of assassinated two-time prime minister Benazir Bhutto, led in 39 constituencies.

Khan's camp was increasingly confident, although it still appeared likely to fall short of the 137 seats needed for a majority in the National Assembly, raising the prospect it would need to find coalition partners among smaller parties and independents.

Sharif rejects count amid rigging allegations

AFP

One of the main candidates in Pakistan's election, Shahbaz Sharif, rejected the results of the poll Thursday as counting was still underway, alleging ‘blatant’ rigging.

"It's such a blatant rigging that everyone has started crying. Today what they have done has pushed Pakistan back 30 years... We reject this result," Sharif, who leads the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), told a press conference in Lahore.

Shortly before he spoke state television said that just 18 per cent of the vote had been counted so far.

 

Late night trend favours Imran Khan's PTI

By Ashfaq Ahmed, Deputy UAE Editor

Dubai: Pakistan's biggest ever polling exercise largely ended smoothly with sporadic incidents of violence, including a bomb blast in Quetta resulting in death of 31 people.

Late night trend of unofficial results indicate win for Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) closely followed by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the PPP lagging far behind at third place. PTI supporters erupted in celebration as the electronic media started announcing unofficial results showing lead for Imran Khan in Pakistan’s 11th General Election.

Voters came out in record number braving any security concern to give their verdict in a knife-edge general election.

Supporters of Pakistan's cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan celebrate during general election in Lahore. AFP

Most analysts had predicted a hung parliament in the 342 seat National Assembly but going by the trends, it may Imran Khan all the way if he manages to secure more than 137 out of 272 contested seats. Announcement of final official results will start today by the Election Commission of Pakistan. 

As many as 12,570 candidates contested for a total of 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the general election yesterday in a race to the parliament.

Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Major General Asif Ghafoor thanked the nation for using their right to vote and showing their love for the men in uniform. “Thank you fellow Pakistanis. World has seen your love and  respect for Pakistan Armed Forces. You have rejected all kinds of malicious propaganda,” he tweeted. 

According to unofficial TV reports at 8.25pm (UAE time).

Results trends. National Assembly

PTI: 75
PML-N: 51
PPP: 27

According to early trends, Imran Khan's PTI is showing a slight edge over Nawaz Sharif's PML-N.

Imran Khan summoned by election commission

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has been summoned by the election commission to appear before it on July 30 for allegedly breaching the secrecy of ballot while casting his vote at a polling station of a Islamabad parliamentary seat, from where he is contesting the general elections, according to media reports.

The 65-year-old cricketer-turned-politician came under the scanner of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) after his vote was telecast live in full view of the media and cameras at the presiding officer's table at the polling station of NA-53 constituency, rather than behind the screen as required by the law.

The ECP Imran Khan on July 30 for breach of secrecy of ballot, the Dawn reported.

Vote-counting begins

Pakistani election officials count ballots papers after polls closed at a polling station in Lahore. AFP

Vote-counting began on Wednesday in a knife-edge Pakistan general election.

Analysts said the vote was too close to call as polls closed at 6pm (1300 GMT).

Gallup Pakistan estimated turnout at between 50 to 55 per cent in an electorate of nearly 106 million, similar to the previous contest in 2013.

TV reports showed election workers sorting through massive piles of paper ballots at polling stations across the country.

There were more than 19 million new potential voters, including millions of women and young people.

Election banners at Charing Cross. Photo: Emanuel Sarfraz

Banners in support of Imran Khan to become Prime Minister by trader community of Hall Road which is hub of electronic goods markets. Photo: Emanuel Sarfraz

Pakistan’s biggest ever polling exercise ends

Pakistan’s biggest ever polling exercise has ended peacefully except sporadic violence in some areas and a suicide bomb blast killing 31 people at a polling station in Quetta.

Voters wait outside a polling station. According to the Election Commission, only those who were present before 6pm will be allowed to cast their vote. Video by Zeeshan Azmat


The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) refused to extend voting time despite demands from major political parties.  A huge turnout of voters has been reported across the country. 

The ECP will start announcing the results as and when results from polling stations start arriving at the election headquarters.

 


Election Commission has refused to extend the polling time

The Election Commission has refused to extend the polling time, rejecting demand of major political parties. The polling will end at 6pm. However, voters who arrived at the polling station will be allowed to cast their votes even after 6pm after the gates are closed.


1 killed in clashes as Pakistan votes 

Police in Pakistan say more clashes between rival political parties have killed another person and wounded 15 across the country, AP reports.

Officer Nasir Ahmed says supporters of the Pakistan Muslim League and Tahrik-e-Insaf parties clashed during the polling on Wednesday in the city of Khanewal, in Punjab province, firing shots and hurling clubs and stones at each other.

Ahmed says four people were taken to hospital with bullet wounds and one of them died. He said 12 people were arrested.

Supporters of the two political parties also clashed elsewhere in Punjab, injuring over a dozen people. There were also skirmishes among political activists in various towns in southern Sindh province but no casualties were reported there.

At least 31 people were killed and dozens injured in a suicide bomb attack on a polling station in southwest Pakistan. Shoes and charred vehicles littered the blood-smeared road near the polling station in the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta, as the dead and injured were shuttled to hospital accompanied by distraught loved ones.


PTI chief Imran Khan votes

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice) chief Imran Khan of the speaks to the media after casting his vote at a polling station. AFP

Only three hours left for voting to end

Only three hours are left to cast votes in Pakistan elections as polling will end at 6pm. Election Commission of Pakistan says that it will not extend time. However, all those who enter the polling station will be allowed to vote even after 6pm. 


Bilawal Bhutto votes

Contender for this election and Chairman of the Pakistan Peoples' Party, Bilawal Bhutto, exits polling station after casting his vote.

Imran Khan condemns Quetta attack 


Sharif tweets picture of mother going to vote

 


Women unable to vote in NA-251


'People will come out and vote'

 

 


Food stalls thrive as polling continues

Food stalls and small snack vendors are among the very few businesses getting profitable sales on polling day.

Former first daughter votes

Daughters of former prime minister - Benazir Bhutto, and ex-President of Pakistan - Asif Ali Zardari showing thumb impressions after casting their respective votes.

 

The Governor of Sindh Muhammad Zubari expressing his views after casting the vote in Defence Housing Authority locality, NA-247. Video: Zeeshan Azmat

A vote to bring in change

An elderly woman along with her relatives arrived at the polling station to  vote. She said every citizen should cast their votes to bring good change in the country.

PTI candidate Liaquat Ali Jatoi


Sensitive polling stations

 

 

 

 

 


Suicide blast kills 30 in Quetta

QUETTA:  At least 30 people were killed and dozens more wounded in a suicide attack on a polling station in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, officials said, as millions voted in a nationwide election Wednesday.

"(The bomber) was trying to enter the polling station. When police tried to stop him he blew himself up," a local administration official in Quetta, Hashim Ghilzai, told AFP.

Dr Wasim Baig, spokesman for the Sandeman Provincial Hospital in Quetta, said the death toll had risen to 30 after two people succumbed to their injuries. Earlier, officials had said 28 people were killed and more than 30 injured.

The attack was not immediately claimed by any group.

Polls open in Pakistan election

 Voters in large numbers on Wednesday morning started flocking outside polling stations across the country to cast their votes in Pakistan's 11th general election.

The first vote was cast in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Charsadda, according to Dawn news website. 

While polling stations officially opened for voting at 8 a.m., enthusiastic citizens queued up outside their respective stations as early as 7 a.m, the website said. Polling stations will remain open for voting till 6 p.m.

Caretaker CM of Sindh reviews poll arrangements

By Muhammad Zeeshan Azmat, Special to Gulf News

Karachi: Caretaker Sindh Chief Minister Fazal-ur-Rehman reviewed the arrangements and facilities being made at the polling stations on Tuesday.

The review meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Major (retd) Azam Suleman, IG Police Amjad Javed Saleemi, Senior Member Board of Revenue (BoR) Iqbal Durani, Principal Secretary to CM Sohail Rajput and Secretary Home Mohammad Haroon.

The chief secretary said there were 5,673 most sensitive polling station all over Sindh, where 20,165 booths have been set up. “As per the decision of the Cabinet, CCTV cameras have been installed,” he said. 21,000 cameras installed at polling stations have also been tested.

Major Azam Suleman said 307 temporary polling stations have been fitted with all the necessary amenities and transport arrangements for electoral officers have also been set.

 “Police have arrested 2,185 trouble makers so far. No one will be allowed to take the law into their hands,” IG Police Amjad Javed Saleemi said.

Poll survey: Here are the predictions

Total Seats 272

PTI = 107 PTI = 25% or 68 seats
PML-N = 79 PML-N = 26% or 71 seats
PPP = 30 PPP = 16% or 44 seats
Others = 56 Others = 33% or 90 seats
Currency Market Associates (CMKA) Gallup Pakistan
   
PTI = 85-95 seats PTI = 29% or 79 71 seats
PML – N = 80-90 seats PML-N = 25% or 68 seats
PPP 35-40 seats PPP = 20% or 54 seats
Others 47-72 seats Others = 26% or 71 seats
Topline  Herald Magazine
   
PTI = 30 % or 82 seats PTI = 92 seats
PML-N = 27% or 73 seats PML-N = 73 seats
PPP = 17 % or 46 seats PPP = 34 seats
Others = 26% or 71 seats Others = 73 seats
Pulse Consultants  Credit Suisse
   
Probability of error: 3%  


Why the poll fever is not visible in Karachi 

Muhammad Zeeshan Azmat, Special to Gulf News 

Karachi: When one drives through the two busiest main roads of Karachi - the Sharea Faisal and University Road -  there is not a single sign of an election being conducted or a campaign going on. There are no banners, posters or even a flag of any political party taking part in the 25th July general elections visible on the roads.

This is in stark contrast to the situation that prevailed in the city during all the previous general and local government elections.

Previously, these two thoroughfares used reflect the vigorous poll campaigns by the political parties. There used to be banners and flags of all colours and shapes imaginable all over the city whenever there is a general election going on.   

However, this time, the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation - the city's main municipal authority - has sprung into action and has removed almost all campaign and publicity materials from all over the city.

Empress Market located in Saddar area Karachi used to host nationalist parties flag but like other part of the city, no flag or banner seen here. Photo: Zeeshan Azmat

The KMC officials say that they have taken this measure to impose the electioneering code of conduct laid down by Election Commission of Pakistan.

Local office-bearers of Pakistan Peoples Party- the party that previously ruled in Sindh province - say that imposition of the code of conduct in Karachi this time is unprecedented.

They point out that in Lahore - the second biggest city in Pakistan - political parties have not been facing similar restrictions.

The PPP office-bearers say that this time around some invisible and unidentified forces have come into action, prventing political parties in Karachi to conduct their campaigns in a normal manner.

They say that such tactics would ultimately benefit London-based founder of Muttahida Quami Movement Altaf Hussain who made a call to boycott the 25th July general polls in Karachi.

Lately the PPP Karachi President Saeed Ghani led a joint delegation of all the aggrieved political parties to the office of Provincial Election Commissioner Sindh in Karachi to formally register a complaint and lodge protest on the issue.

Sindh chapter of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) also held an all parties conference in Karachi on the same issue but to no avail.  

The Caretaker Chief Minister of Sindh Fazal-ur-Rehman presides over a meeting to review finalisation of all kind of arrangements being made at polling station.
The Dawoodi Bohra Community is also taking keen interest in the election. Many of them have shown interest in casting the votes on Wednesday (tomorrow). Fatema Abbas who lives in Shabbirabad block B, says she never casted the vote and for the first time she will practice it. She chooses to vote for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 
A view of main University Road, Karachi, the electricity poles used to hoist party’s flag and banners but this time around they are deserted. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 
Today Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf organizes polling agents meeting to brief the workers about their election related duties. The PTI is paying more attention in NA-243 from where the Chairman PTI Imran Khan will participate in the General Election 2018. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 
Ali School System, Wafaqi Colony, Polling Station. Rain is expected on July 25 General Elections day. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 
The process of dispatching election material to Royal Banquet Hall, Quaidabad has begun. The presiding officers concerned carrying the election material have started their movement towards their respective polling stations under the supervision of Pakistan Army. The election material is being dispatched through buses under the security cover of Pakistan Army and police. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 

Youngsters prefer Imran’s PTI

Wanna Munir is a student of University of Central Punjab. She is originally from Multan but will be casting her vote in Lahore as her family has moved here sometime back.  She will vote for PTI as she believes Imran Khan will bring in change 

Wanna Munir. Video by Emanuel Sarfraz
 

Faiqa is student of University of Central Punjab. She is supporting PTI. She will cast her vote for the first time in her life

Faiqa. Video by Emanuel Sarfraz
 

Usama, 23 years-old lives in Landhi and works for a local company which gathers and analyses news items of Pakistan-based private televisions. His constituency is Landhi NA 240, Usama want to cast his vote for the change. He expressed that “We have already tried every party but Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf Why not Imran Khan then.” Usama is impressed with Imran Khan visions particularly his steps for police, education and health sector.

Usama. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 

Muhammad Rasik Asad is Punjab University student from Gujranwala. Last time, he voted for PML-N but now he is disappointed with the party after five years of their rule and will vote for Imran Khan’s PTI.  

Muhammad Rasik Asad. Video by Emanuel Sarfraz
 

A 36-years old Abid Mohsin, who is a resident of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, and works in private firm, he could not cast his vote last time but decided not to miss the chance this year around. Like many, young people residing in Karachi, he will also vote for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf tomorrow (Wednesday).

Abid Mohsin. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 

Nabeel Khursheed, is a financial analyst by profession and 30 years old. He lives in Safoora Goth while his vote is registered at NA-240. Nabeel though that Imran Khan is the right choice to form the government in the centre as well as in provincial assemblies.

Nabeel Khursheed. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 
Reverend Shahid Mehraj. Video by Emanuel Sarfraz
 

Mudassir Zafar, hails from Qasur, he is going to vote for Tehreek Labaik Ya Rasullah. His vote is registered in Lahore and will cast his vote here. He is a businessman by profession

Mudassir Zafar. Video by Emanuel Sarfraz
 

Sunita Parmar, the first Hindu woman to contest provincial polls 

Sunita Parmar, a 31-year-old Hindu woman, has emerged as a beacon of hope not only for minorities but also for women, who make up 52 per cent of the country’s 220 million population.

Parmar has taken a difficult decision of contesting general elections being held on July 25 and is confident of challenging stereotypes in the process.

Hailing from Tharparker’s Hindu Meghwar community, Sunita has made history as the first Hindu woman to contest provincial assembly election. She is contesting from Tharparkar district (constituency number PS56) in Pakistan’s southern Sindh province as an independent candidate. 

Pakistan all set for polling amidst security fears

Ashfaq Ahmed, UAE Deputy Editor

Dubai: More than 37,100 soldiers have taken control of the polling stations across Pakistan to ensure smooth voting on July 25 as the election campaign came to an end last night.

Though the campaign trail has been a bit lacklustre affair compared to previous elections due to bomb blasts at some rallies killing 160 people, leaders of the major political parties did not budge as they continued to campaign hard until the last minute.

Imran Khan addressing the rally in Lahore. Video by Emanuel Sarfraz

“This election is a serious challenge for security forces as the recent wave of terrorist attacks has created an atmosphere of fear across the country,” Sohail Warraich, a political analyst told Gulf News.

Although more than 100 parties have pitched more than 12500 candidates for the National and the four provincial assembly elections being held on the same day, the real battle for power is amongst three major political parties –Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party and Shahbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. With none of them expected to get clear majority to form the government, some smaller but significantly strong parties and independent candidates are set to play key role in an expected coalition government.

Pakistani politician Imran Khan, chief of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, addresses his supporters during an election campaign in Lahore, Pakistan, Monday (AP)

PTI Chairman Imran remained steadfast on his slogan of making ‘Naya; (new) Pakistan’ if he wins elections. “This time, there is a wave of support for the PTI’s agenda for change and against corruption. We have finally succeeded in making the people understand the direct link between corruption and under-development.

PTI workers dancing at Ferozepur Road, Lahore

Bilawal’s campaign focused on basic human rights, economic reforms and fight against extremism. “The biggest threat to Pakistan’s present and future is extremism, I ask for your support in eradicating this menace from our society,” he tweeted.

Shahbaz said that he would bring Pakistan at par with Malaysia and Turkey. “Low cost housing for the poor and tackling water and energy crisis will be top of my agenda if elected,” he said.

We were not given a free hand: PPP and MQM

Muhammad Zeeshan Azmat, Special to Gulf News

Karachi: While the campaign for the general elections scheduled on July 25 (Wednesday) comes to an end, two major political parties of Sindh, the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and the Karachi based Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM), blamed that they were not given a free hand to run their election campaigns in the province as well as in its capital city.

The leadership of PPP and MQM-Pakistan claimed that their political movements were restricted unnecessarily while other political parties, specially Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), did not face such hurdles.

Supporters of Pakistani political Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party hold party flags as they attend a campaign meeting ahead of the general election in Karachi (AFP)

For the first time in last three decades, the MQM-P, who had upper hand in general and local bodies elections in urban Sindh and mainly in Karachi might face toughest time ever and some major setbacks could also witness in this election as positions of few of their leaders are not as good as it used to be in the past.

Not only their opponents have done all the hard work to convince voters, internal rifts among MQM-P leadership, emergence of Pak Sarzamin Party (PSP) within the party and most importantly the boycott call given by its founder, Altaf Hussain, who is in self-exile in London, United Kingdom, could damage its vote bank.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf activists today arrange rally for Haleem Adil Shaikh, candidate of PS-99, near Sohrab Goth, located next to Super Highway, Karachi. Video by Zeeshan Azmat

This situation has given PTI a great hope to capture as many seats as possible but they could be challenged by the grand religious parties alliance called Muttahida Majlis Amal as well as in some pockets (provincial seats) the Tehreek-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), Awami National Party (ANP) could also give surprising results.

This general election is not only critical for the MQM-P but it is also very important for the MMA or mainly Jamat-e-Islami, one of MMA partners, as both of them claimed to be the true representative of Karachi. On the other hand, the PTI, TLP and even PPP has nothing to loss.

The MQM-P is expected to bag majority of seats while the PTI has also great chances to snatch seats from MQM-P whereas the recent delimitation of various constituencies could benefit the PPP. The PSP, ANP, TLP and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Haqiqi, the group which separated from MQM in 90’s could win one or two provincial assemblies seats and winning national assembly seat would be a ‘shocking defeat’ for other parties particularly the MQM-P.

A reasonable number of masses believe that PTI should be given a chance as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and PPP enjoyed forming governments more than twice at the center and the same is the case with MQM-P, who had been in majority for over 30 years in Karachi, Hyderabad, but none of them had performed outstandingly for the country and the city.

There are a total of 21 national and 44 provincial assembly seats in Karachi and the city is divided in Karachi- East, West, South, Central, Malir and Korangi districts.

Muhammad Zeeshan Azmat is a freelance journalist reporting from Karachi

Election campaign comes to a close

Emanuel Sarfraz, Special To Gulf News

Lahore: There is a popular saying about the general election that whoever wins Lahore wins the whole of Pakistan.

For the last 10 years the Takht (throne) of Lahore was in the hands of Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz. In 2013, PML-N won 13 of the 14 National Assembly seats and Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf won only a single seat. The situation has changed: the PML-N may not be able to win as many seats as it had done in 2013.

The atmosphere in the city is politically charged.

Election campaign will come to a close across Pakistan at midnight. There will be no more campaigns.
Preparations for the election day activities are in full swing. However, supporters will continue their door-to-door awareness drive: urging voters to turn up at polling stations and informing people about transportation arrangements to the polling stations.

The main contest is between PML-N and PTI. Pakistan People’s Party that was once the largest party of Pakistan has lost much political ground and according to political pundits may not even come in the third place. The third place is expected to be bagged by the newly-formed religious party Tehrik-e-Labaek Ya Rasool Allah.

All political parties have prepared their own party songs. Huge screens and speakers have been put up by the side of the road to play these songs and to motivate voters.

President of PML-N Shehbaz Sharif spent the last day of the campaign in Rawalpindi, while PTI Chairman Imran Khan spent the day in Lahore. After holding a number of party meetings he addressed an election rally in Jallo area to support PTI candidate Ijaz Ahmed Dial. Later, he went to pay tribute at the shrine of Data Gunj Buksh. Khan is expected to end his campaign in Wapda Town, which is near the hospital he built, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital.

Other political parties’ activities were very low key.

Meanwhile, army personnel  and police have arrived at polling stations to ensure a peaceful election.

Emanuel Sarfraz is a freelance journalist reporting from Pakistan.

Campaign comes to an end today

By Ashfaq Ahmed, Deputy Editor, UAE

Dubai: The election campaign for the 2018 general polls is coming to an end tonight (12am) with thousands of candidates canvassing people to vote for them on July 25. 

Though the campaign trail for major parties has been a bit lacklustre affair compared to previous elections due to bomb blasts at some rallies causing causalities, leaders of the major political parties did not budge as they continued to hold rallies till the last minute.

This election is unique as the three major political parties are competing with one another in a race to form the national government and also trying to take over power in the four provinces.

Fazalur Rehman, centre, leader of Pakistani religious parties alliance, shows solidarity with other leaders during an election campaign in Karachi. AP

More than a hundred parties are taking part in 2018 elections, but real contest is amongst the three main political parties: Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI). Either of these three main stream parties is expected to form the next government.

Some other smaller but significantly strong parties, which play key role in every elections and can enter into an alliance to help the bigger parties in forming the government include the Karachi-based Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM); Pakistan Muslim League-Q ; Grand Democratic Alliance (JDA); grand alliance of religious parties called Mutahida Majlis Amal (MMA), secular group  Awami National Party (ANP); Pakhtunkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP); Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) and Balochistan National Party.

Supporters of Shahbaz Sharif, head of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), dance and cheer to songs during an election campaign rally in Pindi Gheb in Punjab province. AFP
 

People enjoying the PML-N party songs at Mozang, Lahore.
 

PML-N supporters waving party flags at one of the busiest food hub in Lahore, Mozang.

PTI political compagn office in Faisal Town illuminated with lights few hours are left to run political compagns.

Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf Pakistan Justice Party political office as Tv polls show PTI to win majority seats on July 25 General Elections

A 40-years old Misbah Akhter is a resident of Gulistan-e-Jauhar and works as a management consultant in a private firm. He is a diehard supporter of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf and says he will definitely cast his vote to PTI like last time because he thinkPTI is the only party who will work for the betterment of Pakistan. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 
Arshad Yousafzai, 29 years old is a resident of Gulshan-e-Iqbal. He belongs to Swat, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. But, shifted to Karachi in 2008 for studies. Now, he is a registered voter in Karachi NA-243. Being a responsible citizen of Pakistan, he will vote Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz because its election campaign was much better than other parties. He likes PLMN’s manifesto and its pervious policies for the country. In his opinion, the party deserves to be elected again because a number of serous politicians are associated with PML-N. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 
A 29 years old Yasir Abbas is a resident of North Karachi, according to him, he cast his vote in 2013 general elections but not satisfied with the performance of the winning candidate that is why he might vote someone else this time. He believes every citizen should exercise this right to bring changes in their respective areas and country. Video by Zeeshan Azmat
 
Syed Saifuddin Shabbir, a 52 years old network administration by profession at a local company, is a resident of Shabbirabad Block-B but his vote is registered in Old City area. On July 25, he along with his family will go to polling station established near City Court to cast his vote.
 

Understanding Pakistan Elections 2018

■ Total number of seats: 849 (including national assembly and four provincial assemblies)
■ Total number of candidates: 11,855
■ Number of political parties taking part: 107
■ Number of National Assembly seats: 342 (272 directly elected, 60 reserved for women and 10 for religious minorities)

■ Number of candidates contesting for National Assembly: 3,459
■ From Punjab:1,623
■ From Sindh: 824
■ From KPK:  725
■ From Balochistan: 287


Election in four provincial assemblies in four provinces of Pakistan

Punjab Assembly:

■ Number of candidates: 4,036 
■ Number of general seats to contest: 297


Sindh Assembly:

■ Number of candidates: 2,252
■ Number of general seats to contest: 130


Khyber Pakhtunkhwa:

■ Number of candidates:  1,165
■ Number of general seats to contest: 99


Balochistan Assembly:

■ Number of candidates: 943
■ Number of general seats to contest: 51


Electoral roll

• Population of Pakistan: 200 million (last estimate)
• Total number of voters: 105.96 million
• Number of voters in 2013 elections: 86.19 million
• New voters in 2018: 19.77 million
• Male: 59.22million (5.9 per cent)
• Female: 46.73million (44.1 per cent)
• Gender gap between male and female voters rising to around 12.5million.

• Number of voters in Punjab: 60.67million
• Male: 33.68million
• Female: 26.99million

• Number of voters in Sindh: 22.39million
• Male: 12.44million
• Female: 9.95million

• Number of voters in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa: 15.32m
• Male: 8.71million
• Female: 6.61million

• Number of voters in Balochistan: 4.3million
• Male: 2.49million
• Female: 1.81million

• Number of voters in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA): 2.51million 

Violence, Sharif corruption case put Pakistan on edge  

Washington Post

The elections to choose Pakistan's next prime minister are rife with tension that, analysts say, could erupt into political upheaval in the nuclear-armed nation that is a key player in US-driven efforts to fight terrorism in the region.

Emotions are high over a corruption case that put ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif in prison this month. Wednesday's elections for control of the National Assembly are expected to be a close contest between Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-N party and former cricket star Imran Khan's Pakistan Movement for Justice party.

After a recent string of suicide bomb attacks at political rallies killed nearly 160 people in less than a week, including a candidate from Khan's party on Sunday, 371,000 soldiers will be at polling stations around the country - what some see as a necessary layer of security and others regard as proof that the nation's military, which has staged several coups in the past, intends to control the results in a still-fragile democracy.

Against that backdrop is the possibility that Khan, 65, who is seen as a favorite of Pakistan's armed forces, will prevail.

A woman supporter of Tehreek-e-Insaf party raises a picture of her party's leader Imran Khan during an election campaign rally in Karachi. AP

Anything but an overwhelming victory by either side is likely to be marred by allegations of fraud and a struggle for control of the government - pulling attention away from a foundering economy, a looming debt crisis and foreign policy concerns that include US attempts to end the war in neighboring Afghanistan, analysts say.

"There is a higher likelihood than there has been in the past that this could end up in a political crisis that makes governance virtually impossible," said Moeed Yusuf, a South Asia expert at the U.S. Institute for Peace.

Imran Khan tweeted this on Sunday

Khan, a fiery orator who casts himself as a crusader against government corruption, has seized on the case that ensnared Sharif - a three-time prime minister - and his daughter Maryam Nawaz, 44.

They both returned home from London this month to turn themselves in after they were found guilty of hiding money through the ownership of luxury London apartments and other offshore properties, a case that stemmed from the leaked 2016 Panama Papers.

Sharif, 68, received a 10-year sentence, while his daughter got seven years. Both are appealing their prison terms.

Khan and his supporters say the case shows how the halls of power in Islamabad have long been addled by corruption at the expense of the nation's tattered economy.

"The difference now is that I speak to a public that understands issues like corruption and how it impacts their lives," Khan wrote on Twitter this month. "They now understand (the) correlation between corruption & poverty, unemployment & inflation."

His message has resonated with the country's growing urban middle class, which is mostly young and conservative, said Michael Kugelman, a senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center in Washington.

"These young urban conservative middle-class folks, they see the established parties as corrupt, out of touch and not really interested in providing for the common people," Kugelman said. "That is a key constituency to capture."

Sharif's party is reeling from the fact that its charismatic founder is in prison and disqualified for life from holding office.

But the party remains formidable, particularly in populous Punjab province - home to 141 National Assembly seats - which lifted Sharif to power in the 2013 elections. To control the government outright, a party needs to win at least 172 seats.

Before turning himself in, Sharif energized his base by alleging that the corruption charges were part of a move by the armed forces to push him out.

As prime minister, Sharif was often at odds with the military and advocated for policies its leaders were against, such as normalizing relations with India, the country's bitter foe.

Rock the vote: Pakistani political music keeps the party going

AFP

As the crowd swells with anticipation for their leader Shahbaz Sharif's arrival a DJ blares the anthem "Respect the vote", while supporters chant slogans and sway to the synth-driven dance track.

Asif Butt, better known by his stage persona DJ Butt, performs during a rally of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) in Islamabad. AFP

"We are enjoying it a lot," shouts Nauman Khan over the ear-splitting volume as he dances with friends at the rally in Punjab province, days ahead of Pakistan's national elections.

"We really like the songs of Nawaz Sharif," he screams, referring to Shahbaz's brother, the jailed former premier who continues to inspire his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supporters from behind bars.

Pakistani political rallies have been transformed in recent years to festive blowouts, designed to entertain as much as inspire supporters to vote.

The formula was first perfected by Asif Butt - better known by his stage persona DJ Butt - an erstwhile wedding DJ who first shot to fame when he played a rally for cricketer-turned-opposition leader Imran Khan in 2011.

It was there that the Lahore-based DJ began to perfect his craft, playing contemporary songs to warm up the crowd and musical interludes to the speeches on stage - injecting some dramatic theatre into long stretches of oratory.

"Imran Khan is a quick learner. He understood quickly where he had to pause for music and where he should continue speaking," says Butt.

The mashup was a hit, paving the way for continued collaboration between Butt and Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during the 2013 election season as the party reached out to younger and more urban voters.

Political parties in Pakistan have used music as a way of spreading slogans and unifying supporters since the rise of pop music in the late 1980s, following the end of a military dictatorship.

But increasingly, and thanks to DJs like Butt, the rhythms of political rallies are filling a vital space in the deeply conservative Islamic country, providing the music-obsessed masses with a space to dance and cut loose.

Sharif needs to be taken to hospital

IANS

The political party of Pakistan's jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked authorities to urgently move him to a hospital, saying his health has deteriorated.

Monday's comment by Pervaiz Rashid, spokesman for the Pakistan Muslim League, came as doctors were due to examine Sharif, who has a history of heart disease.

Sharif underwent an open-heart surgery at a hospital in London in 2016.

He has been held at a jail in the city of Rawalpindi since July 13, when he returned from London to face a 10-year prison sentence on corruption charges.

Rashid says the party isn't "seeking any concession" for Sharif but that he has a right to be treated by his doctor.

Tensions and violence have escalated in Pakistan ahead of parliamentary elections on Wednesday.

Sharif denied personal doctor as health worsens: party

AFP

Pakistan's jailed former prime minister Nawaz Sharif is suffering from high blood pressure but has been refused permission to see his personal doctor, his party said Monday.

Sharif was convicted in his absence overseas on corruption charges and arrested upon his return to Pakistan earlier his month, ahead of elections on Wednesday.

Members of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have said the powerful military is trying to influence the vote against his party.

The former premier is widely believed to have returned to face a 10-year prison sentence to rally his embattled party ahead of a close contest with its main rival - the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, led by cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan.

"Caretaker Prime Minister Nasir-ul-Mulk and chief minister of Punjab province Hasan Askari were approached with a request to provide access to Sharif's personal physician but all requests went down the drain," PML-N spokesperson Maryam Aurangzeb told AFP.

"Nawaz Sharif, who is also a heart patient, has been quite unwell since Saturday after his blood pressure went up," Aurangzeb added.