Islamabad, July 24: The campaigning for the July 25 national and provincial elections in Pakistan came to an end on Monday, July 23, and all eyes are now on D-Day.
The election this year has been special as the former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has been jailed weeks ahead of the polling while extremist elements have attacked electioneering in most brutal ways possible, leaving several hundreds, including a few candidates, dead.
This election expects to see a peaceful transition of power from one government to another for only the second time in the country's nearly 71 years of independence. The only other time it had happened was in 2013 when the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) took over from the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). However, Pakistan is yet to see a prime minister completing full five years of his/her tenure in office.
Here are some facts and figures on Pakistan's general elections 2018:
Voting will begin at 8 am local time (8.30 am India time) on Wednesday and close at 6 pm (6.30 pm in India). Elections will take place in all the four provinces of the country besides at the centre.
The contest will mainly be between the PML-N of Sharif and Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led by former cricketer Imran Khan. The other big party, PPP, led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardari is though not as powerful a force today but is expected to win seats across the constituencies. There is also Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA) which is an alliance of right-wing religious outfits.
Results will start coming out by around 8 pm (8:30 pm IST) and the scenario is expected to be clear by around 2 am (Thursday, July 26).
More than 105 million voters will cast their ballots for the National Assembly (federal) and Provincial Assembly (in provinces) seats in Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
What is the magic figure?
There are in all 272 seats for direct election and 70 reserved seats in the National Assembly. To form government, a party/alliance has to get 172 of the 342 seats.
The big issue of 2018 elections:
The ouster and imprisonment of Nawaz Sharif, arguably the country's tallest political figure, has pegged the PML-N back ahead of the elections and it has accused the influential army of having pulled the strings from behind to derail its plans.
Imran Khan's PTI, on the other hand, has sensed an opportunity and looks favourite to come to power, albeit in alliance with other parties though the leader has rubbished possibilities of him joining hands with either the PML-N or PPP to form government if the situation so arises. The series of defection from the PML-N to the PTI or PML-N candidates deciding to contest as independents have also made the former ruling party look weak.
In the north-western province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the MMA has vowed to replace the PTI after its five years of rule there.
In the south-western province of Balochistan, the newly launched Balochistan Awami Party is expected to do well in this election.
The rise of terror is also an issue ahead of the election. The spate of extremist attacks on rallies to disrupt the election has caused a serious worry.
Concerns are also high over the army's tacit role in the elections although it has said that its role in the polls is limited to maintaining law and order situation.
Fact check of Pakistan elections 2018 (source: Election Commission of Pakistan):
Total candidates: 105,955,407
Women candidates: 59,224,262
National Assembly candidates: 3,765
Polling stations: 85,000
2013 voter turnout: 55 per cent