It is Polling day

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The historic moment has finally arrived, at least half of the total population will be able to cast their vote in today’s elections. According to the data provided by the Election Commission Pakistan, 105.955 million voters will be able exercise their right to franchise. Of these, 59.22m are male and 46.73m are females. Meanwhile, stringent security arrangements have been made to conduct the polls in a peaceful and transparent manner. The ECP is said to have deputed a total of 1.6 million staff for poll duties across the country. 85,307 presiding officers, 510,356 assistant presiding officers, and 255,178 polling officers will render their services on the Day. A total number of 11,855 candidates are running for 849 general seats of National Assembly and four provincial assemblies across the country. This includes a total of 3,459 candidates — 1,623 from Punjab, 824 from Sindh, 725 from KP and 287 from Balochistan. They will contest for the 272 general seats of the National Assembly. The National Assembly – the lower house of the parliament in the Pakistan’s democratic system consists of 342 members, of which 272 are directly elected, 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 are open to religious minorities.

Besides representatives of contesting parties a good number of local as well as foreign observers are monitoring the election process being dubbed by analyst as the most crucial elections in the parliamentary history of Pakistan. In addition to three main contenders i.e. Pakistan Muslim League-N, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, and Pakistan Peoples Party nearly 106 political parties including half a dozen politico-religious groups as well as independent candidates are contesting the elections. Political analysts are predicting exciting but tough competitions between the candidates of two mainstream political parties in Punjab, which holds lion’s share of seats in the national assembly. Surveys conducted by different NGOs ahead of polls show PML-N and PTI in neck and neck fight without any clear winner thus portraying a scenario of a hung parliament. Irrespective of which party gains majority or emerges victorious in the elections, the holding of polls in time is itself is a big success that will ultimately strengthen the democratic process in the country.

On the other hand the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) retired Justice Sardar Muhammad Raza has assured the nation that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) was “trying its best to hold free, fair and unbiased elections”. In a video message released by the commission, Raza urged voters to fulfill their “duty towards the nation” by casting their votes responsibly on polling day on July 25. Moreover, the commission has already issued a code of conduct for political parties, contesting candidates, election agents and polling agents. The ECP code provides a detailed guideline about what and what not to do during the polling. The polling day do’s and don’ts will certainly help to make the polling process a smooth one and an interesting experience.

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