Pakistan polls: Imran Khan's PTI leads in early trends

Pakistan polls: Imran Khan's PTI leads in early trends

Pakistan polls: Imran Khan's PTI leads in early trends

Wednesday's attack comes as Pakistanis vote in general elections for 270 members of the law-making National Assembly, or lower house of parliament, and 577 seats in four provincial assemblies.

The bombing also wounded 35 people, with several reported to be in critical condition, raising concerns the death toll could rise further, said hospital official Jaffar Kakar, a doctor.

An anti-corruption crusader, Mr Khan has promised an "Islamic welfare state" and cast his populist campaign as a battle to topple a predatory political elite hindering development in the impoverished mostly-Muslim nation of 208 million people, where the illiteracy rate hovers above 40 per cent.

Citing "large-scale nationwide complaints", the letter added that only "3-4 people" are being allowed to enter the polling station at one time, slowing down the process.

The leading contenders are former cricket star Imran Khan and his center-right Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Movement for Justice) party and Shahbaz Sharif, the brother of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who took control of the Pakistan Muslim League.

Results will start trickling in within hours, and the likely victor should be known by around 2:00am on Thursday. Some of the infamous Pakistani extremist leaders, accused of spreading religious hatred and instigating sectarian violence, are among hundreds of candidates contesting the elections.

The vote Imran Khan cast today in NA-53, a constituency in Islamabad, may be cancelled, Pakistani media reports said.

The blast happened near a polling station, said a Reuters witness in Quetta, capital of Pakistan's province of Baluchistan, but it was unclear if voting had been disrupted.

Former foreign minister Khawaja Asif casts vote at Sialkot NA-73 polling station.

Authorities have ordered the deployment of more than 800,000 troops and police to guard polling stations across the country.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Supporters of Pakistan Muslim League-N party wave party flags during an election campaign rally in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on July 23. An attack earlier this month in Pakistan's southwestern Baluchistan province killed 149 people, including a parliamentary candidate.

It also documented widespread censorship of the news press, in line with allegations that the military had intimidated journalists when reporting on politics and security issues.

As Pakistan prepares to make history Wednesday by electing a third straight civilian government, rights activists, analysts and candidates say the campaign has been among its dirtiest ever, imperiling the country's wobbly transition to democratic rule.

Officials had increased security across Pakistan for the election on Wednesday after deadly attacks in the final weeks of the campaign killed over 180 people, including three candidates.

Former prime minister Sharif, the supremo of the PML-N who was jailed this month after being convicted in a corruption case, also accused the military of pressuring the judiciary to convict him.

Independent candidate Jibran Nasir said that Tehreek-i-Labbaik Pakistan supporters attacked a facilitation camp he had set up in Chandio Village in Karachi.

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