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Voting concludes across Pakistan in poll marred by sporadic violence

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Islamabad, Feb 8: At least five policemen were killed and six others injured in militant attacks in Pakistan, where polling for general elections is underway on Thursday. At least four police officials were killed and six others injured in a bomb attack on a police vehicle in Graha Aslam polling station in Dera Ismail Khan district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, The Express Tribune reported.
A security officer was killed when gunmen opened fire at a security forces vehicle in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Tank district , Khyber news reported.
In NA-49 Attock, PML-N and PTI workers entered into a scuffle leading to a temporary suspension of polling at two booths. The scuffle erupted due to halt in the polling process at Government Boys High School Bhangi Hazro. The polling resumed after a delay of approximately five hours.
National Democratic Movement (NDM) chairman Mohsin Dawar said: “Taliban have taken over the polling stations in NA-40, Tappi.”
In a post on X, he said: “I have written to the CEC urging @ECP_Pakistan to take notice of the security situation in Tappi, N. Waziristan in NA-40 where Taliban have taken over polling stations. We have also filed an application with the police against an attack there on 3 of our female polling agents. the Taliban have ‘taken over the polling stations’ in NA-40, Tappi.” PTI leader Hammad Azhar claimed that half of polling time has elapsed and voting is yet to begin at NA 129 Lahore. “The presiding officer says he cannot contact anyone at RO office or ECP because mobile services are down,” Azhar said.
Internet has also been suspended across the country in what the government has described as a “security measure”. The government’s move was decried by various political parties.
Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar on Thursday lauded the “participation and enthusiasm” of people as the cornerstone of democratic exercise and said the high voter turnout is a “clear indication of public commitment.”
He also commended the security personnel, civil administration and the Election Commission of Pakistan for conducting “free and fair elections” across the country. Amid the deployment of 6,50,000 security personnel, voting that started at 8:00 am, concluded at 5:00 pm for an approximately 1.28 crore registered voters to cast their ballots.
Kakar described it as a “momentous occasion”. The Islamabad High Court has sent back to the election commission the case of the violation of the five per cent general seats quota for women by political parties in the general elections.
Pakistan’s more than two-decades-old fight against terrorism is also unravelling as the rebels have resurged since 2021 after the Afghan Taliban came to power.
Justice Aamer Farooq on Wednesday said general elections on Thursday could not be stopped but directed the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to take action on the complaint as per law after the polls, Dawn News reported.
The Aurat Foundation had filed a petition against the poll body for non-compliance with Section 206 of the Elections Act 2017 which says that a minimum of 5 per cent of general seat tickets be given to women by all political parties in the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies.
Pakistan has reserved seats for women to ensure female representation in the legislative process on both national and provincial levels to promote gender equality in governance.
The Aurat Foundation, known for its advocacy for women’s rights, highlighted the violation of the said provision in a letter addressed to Chief Election Commissioner Sikandar Sultan Raja ahead of the national polls. (Agencies)

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