31 killed, 36 injured in violence across Pakistan on Election Day

Imran Khan wants to create a 'New Pakistan,' many fear more of the same

Imran Khan wants to create a 'New Pakistan,' many fear more of the same

At least 28 people have been killed after a blast in the Pakistani city of Quetta, as Pakistan goes to the polls.

Up to 800 000 police and troops have been stationed at more than 85 000 polling stations across the country, with concerns for security after a string of bloody militant attacks in the final weeks of the campaign that killed more than 180 people including three candidates.

The Balochistan bombing targeted the convoy of Deputy Inspector General of Police Abdul Razzaq Cheema near a polling station.

Perhaps jumping the gun before official announcement of the election results, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhary tweeted to congratulate nation on "new Pakistan" and dubbed party chief Imran Khan as the "Prime Minister ".

Results will start trickling in within hours, and the likely victor should be known by early Thursday.

Sharif's PML-N has sought to turn the vote into a referendum on Pakistan's democracy, and has said it was campaigning to protect the "sanctity of the vote".

Interestingly, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif is much behind his competitors in the said constituency.

As polls closed, Pakistan's Election Commission spokesman Nadeem Qasim told The Associated Press that the commission had issued a notice to Khan saying his vote could be disqualified after he cast his ballot in front of television cameras, violating "the secrecy of the ballot paper".

Recent nationwide polls indicate a tight race, with Khan's party ahead on 30 percent in one survey, compared to 27 percent for PML-N.

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As well, Khan's vehicle was allowed to enter the polling station, and he also brought members of his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, inside.

The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to the group's AMAQ news agency. An attack earlier this month in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province killed 149 people, including a parliamentary candidate. In Pakistan, a candidate can run for elections in multiple seats.

If successful, the elections will mark only the second time a civilian government has handed power to another since the country's independence in 1947.

"Imran Khan is the only ‎hope to change destiny of our country".

"It is worrying how strategically religion is being used as a tool to come into power by a large number of candidates", said Samar Minallah Khan, a human rights activist and documentary filmmaker.

Several parties in Pakistan will contest for 342 assembly seats, which includes 272 general seats, while 60 of them are reserved for the women and around 10 of them are reserved for the minorities.

Sharif marked his ballot for both the National and Punjab provincial Parliaments and is contesting elections in four National Assembly seats and in two Punjab provincial legislature seats.

PML-N's lacklustre campaign was reinvigorated by the return to Pakistan of party founder Nawaz Sharif, 68, who was earlier this month convicted and sentenced in absentia to 10 years in prison over the purchase of upscale London apartments using offshore companies in the mid 1990s. After the results, 27 winning independent candidates joined Sharif's party to give it a majority.

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