Pakistan bomb attack in Quetta kills 18 as country holds general election

WEB_Pakistan_Election_PTI_Results_Reuters

The early-morning press conference came hours after Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif in Lahore outrightly rejected the results, alleging "blatant" rigging of the election, even though the vote count was under way.

Ostensibly, it seems that opposite has happened as Imran Khan-led PTI is leading PML-N in both National Assembly and provincial assembly's constituencies. The 2013 election was also marred by violence, with 150 people killed in the six weeks leading up to polling day.

The party of Khan's jailed chief rival, ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, called the count an assault on democracy in the nuclear-armed, Muslim country which has a history of military rule. As the results trickle, it will be clear in a few hours as to who will be the next Prime Minister of Pakistan. Pakistan Peoples Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari too raised doubts over the slow pace of vote count and other procedural irregularities.

The most populous province of Punjab - which has 141 out of the 272 directly elected seats in the National Assembly - is a key battleground, analysts have said.

Pakistanis began voting in a historic third straight election ending a campaign marred by widespread allegations of manipulation that local and global rights group say imperils the country's wobbly transition to democratic rule.

In the past by 8 am or so, one can make out who has won.

"So the Election Commission of Pakistan will have to respond - but it is unclear how", former state department official Alyssa Ayres, who is now with the Council on Foreign Relations, said.

A Pakistani woman casts her vote at a polling station for the parliamentary elections in Islamabad on Wednesday.

"We're getting complaints that on some polling stations where certain parties are losing, their polling agents are leaving without taking the verified results", he said.

Earlier, one policeman was killed and three wounded in a hand grenade attack on a polling station in southwestern Balochistan, Pakistan's poorest and most restive province, local police there told AFP.

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The election marked the second democratic transition of power since 17 years of military rule ended in 2008.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf supporters had already begun victory celebrations on Wednesday, though the election results were still incomplete and had not been officially declared till late into the night.

"This is not an election, it is complete selection", said PML-N Sen. The Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarian (PPPP) however did better than expected by securing 42 NA seats.

Qasim said Khan violated Pakistan's constitution, which guarantees the secrecy of the ballot.

Mr Khan, in tweets on Tuesday after a frenetic campaign of nationwide rallies, said: "This has been the culmination of 22 years of struggle". In this scenario, the PTI is likely to form a coalition government.

As many as 12,570 candidates are contesting for a total of 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the general election. Pakistan's military deployed 350,000 troops countrywide at polling stations.

Millions of voters turned out on Wednesday despite intense heat and a campaign marked by rancour, terrorist attacks, accusations of military meddling and the dramatic return of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to serve a prison term for financial misdeeds.

The PPP, which has been overtaken by Khan's PTI as the main challenger to PML-N, has also alleged intimidation by spy agencies.

Jibran Nasir, an independent candidate from the financial hub of Karachi, said he received death threats and even had a fatwa, or religious edict, issued against him.

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