Polling ends, counting of votes begins


Polling in the General Election 2018 concluded at 6.00pm on Wednesday, as the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) rejected requests from major political parties of the country, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), to extend the time for an hour.

The PML-N held an emergency meeting over the matter, which was attended by the party’s senior leaders, and requested the ECP to extend the polling time.

“Voting is a fundamental right of every citizen and to ensure that citizens exercise their right, the ECP should extend polling time,” said Senator Mushahid Hussain.

Earlier, the PML-N had sent a letter to the electoral body seeking extension in the polling time by an hour due to “voters standing in long lines in the hot and humid weather”.

Requesting the ECP to extend the polling time, under section 70 of the Election Act 2017, the PML-N has said that “we are receiving complaints on a large scale nationwide and PML-N would appreciate if this demand of the voters is accepted”.

PPP had also called for an extension in polling time, saying that the voting process across the country is very sluggish due to general mismanagement in the polling stations.

Moreover, Pakistan Sarzameen Party’s Mustafa Kamal and Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rasheed also requested the ECP to extend the polling time.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) criticised the PML-N’s call for extension in polling time, saying that “even if the polling time is extended by two hours, the N-league supporters won’t come out to cast vote”.

Following rain, polling was temporarily halted across some Lahore areas, while at a polling station in NA-29 (Peshawar III) voters and polling staff faced difficulties due to load shedding.

Moreover, there were several delays due to clashes between rival party supporters and other irregularities.

In addition to long queues, polling did not begin till 1pm at two Karachi NA-241 polling stations. The process of voting was temporarily halted at a station in Upper Dir’s NA-5 constituency after alleged rigging, in Larkana’s NA-200 and PS-11 constituencies after an explosion.