Home Muslim World News Voting begins in Pakistan amid security concerns

Voting begins in Pakistan amid security concerns


Islamabad : Voting for the lower house of parliament and the four provincial assemblies commenced here in Pakistan on Monday, over a month after they were postponed in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination and subsequent violence.

Security is on high alert across the country and hundreds of polling stations have been declared sensitive.

Media reports said that polling could not begin in several northern areas owing to snowy weather, and in several districts of Southwestern Baluchistan province.

The election is being held for 272 of 342 National Assembly (NA) seats while 60 are reserved for women and 10 for minorities.

The 272 NA seats are distributed among four provinces in accordance to population, 148 are in Punjab, 61 in Sindh, 35 in North West Frontier (NWFP), 14 in Baluchistan, and 12 have been allocated for the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), with a final 2 for the capital.

According to the Election Commission, there are about 80.1 million registered voters.

The turnout is expected to be between 30 and 40 percent and analysts are skeptical of any increase owing to security concerns.

In 2002 general elections, voters’ turnout was 41.7 percent.

Analysts say turnout on Monday could be hurt by fears of violence. The main parties contesting the election are pro-Musharraf Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q) and allies Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Islamism Mutahia Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).