The countrywide election campaign, marred by a string of terrorist attacks, came to an end at the stroke of midnight, as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf — the two leading political parties culminated their respective poll drives in the Punjab.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan addressed his last election rally in Lahore, as did the PML-N’s Hamza Shahbaz Sharif, whereas his father and the party President Mian Shahbaz Sharif had a busy day in south Punjab to muster up voter support.
It is being speculated that the imprisonment of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam has impeded the party’s election campaign. Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari spoke to his party workers in parts of Sindh.
The Grand Democratic Alliance leaders also addressed rallies in Sindh while MQM-Pakistan and Pak Sarzameen Party held last public meetings in Karachi. Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal and other regional parties also had their power shows in various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Terrorist acts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan claimed over 200 lives, including three contesting candidates, namely Haroon Bilour of Awami National party, Balochistan Awami Party’s Siraj Raisani and Ikramullah Gandapur of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. Already, the security institutions had cautioned that leaders of mainstream political parties and certain candidates faced serious security threats.
This scenario, to an extent, affected the traditional election fever. Imran, who had first announced to end his election campaign by holding a late night public meeting at D-Chowk, reviewed the plan and then decided to hold the power show at the Parade Ground on July 21, which he never held and had his last poll stints in Lahore.
Rawalpindi which is known for its aggressive and extremely charged political workers when it comes to electioneering, received a jolt when the PML-N’s potential candidate from NA-60 Hanif Abbasi was jailed and hence stood disqualified. His sentence led to the Election Commission’s notification of postponement in the election in this constituency, where he faced AML President Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, supported by the PTI.
A safe and secure election is and remains a major concern for everyone, as around 350,000 troops were deployed across Pakistan on Monday to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan in the conduct of peaceful and transparent elections. In addition to that, some 450,000 cops would also be part of the security contingents performing election duty.
Meanwhile, PML-N leader Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed alleged on Monday that the workers of his party were being pressured into supporting the PTI ahead of elections. This he claimed in a letter written to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).
Senator Mushahid mentioned what he charged the rampant violation of the code of conduct. He claimed a vehicle with government number plate was seen in a campaign rally of PTI in Faisalabad, while in Rawalpindi a truck belonging to the local administration was seen removing the PML-N banners and posters.
Meanwhile, the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) Monday said countrywide deployment of troops was completed to assist the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in holding free, fair, and peaceful elections on July 25.
“Deployment of troops completed in respective areas of responsibility to provide mandated assistance to the ECP in conduct of free, fair and transparent Elections 2018. Coordination with other law enforcement agencies and local administration is in hand for ensuring safe and secure environment.”
The ECP had requisitioned services of the armed forces under Articles 220 and 245 of the Constitution to provide a safe and secure environment to voters on the polling day.
Four personnel have been deputed at each of 85,000 polling stations while Junior Commissioned Officers have been given judicial powers. Earlier, the troops also performed security duties at three printing presses in Karachi and Islamabad at the time of printing balloting material and helped secure transportation of the same to respective districts.
**This article actually appeared in The News website