More than 30 political parties and 12,570 candidates are in the running to sway close to 106-million registered voters who will elect both the national and four provincial assemblies. Pakistan citizens went to the polls a few hours before the blast amid heavy security following the assassination of a candidate. The polls close at 6pm local time, which is 11pm tonight AEST. (Courtesy Nine News) This week’s election will be only the second time since Pakistan became independent 70-years ago that power has been transferred peacefully from one government to another. It all goes to plan.The opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Kahn is looking to unseat the incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which was formally led by the now imprisoned ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The run up to today has been shadowed by increasing tensions over allegations the country’s military has secretly backed Mr Khan.Earlier election violence saw a suicide bomber in Balochistan kill 150 people – including one of Mr Khan’s party candidates Ikramullah Gandapur.The main problem for the ruling PML’N’s campaign is that since the ousting of its leader Mr Sharif who was jailed over corruption allegations, his less charismatic brother has been running the party’s campaign. Candidates from the party claim they’ve been targeted by the military. A suicide bomber struck outside a crowded polling station in Pakistan’s southwestern city of Quetta, killing 31 people as Pakistanis cast ballots in a general election meant to lead to the nation’s third consecutive civilian government.The Deputy Inspector General Abdul Razzal Cheema said the injured have been shifted to the Sandeman Provincial Hospital. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said it was “gravely concerned” about violence being directed against candidates during the campaign, warning “election gatherings must not become killing fields.” The Pakistan People’s Party is also expected to pick up seats as is the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal (MMA), an alliance of right wing religious parties.Sixty seats are reserved for women and ten for minorities which are decided on a basis of five-percent proportional representation.About 800,000 security personnel and 370,000 army soldiers are watching over election day to ensure a free, fair and transparent vote for the people of Pakistan. read more


“Mellit is known for the peaceful coexistence between all tribes. I hope that this reputation will continue well into the future,” said UNAMID’s Head of Office for North Darfur, Hassan Gibril, who led the Mission’s delegation in the talks with community leaders on Tuesday.Disagreements between members of the Ziyadiah and Berti tribes emerged on 15 August, and resulted in violent clashes in which shops were looted and destroyed in Mellit’s main market area. The violence resulted in the deaths of six people and injuries to 12 others.According to an UNAMID news release, Mr. Gibril said he was deeply concerned by the tragic events and offered the Mission’s assistance in mediation and inter-tribal reconciliation activities. “We want to learn from what happened to prevent such incidents in the future,” he said.During the meeting with the UNAMID delegation, the local chief of the Abassi camp for internally displaced persons, Adam Abdurahim Kharif, said that residents fear attacks similar to the one that happened in the Kassab camp, which earlier this month was surrounded by armed men who looted its market and burnt down the police post located within, killing four people. The security and humanitarian situations in the camp have deteriorated since then, according to the Mission.Mr. Kharuf also asked for more protection from UNAMID to prevent similar events from occurring in Mellit.The Mission noted that Mellit’s local commissioner said that the events last week were a series of isolated incidents that have been resolved through goodwill, while the deputy leader of the Ziyadiah tribe said that members of the community moved quickly to contain the situation and now are working together to find a peaceful remedy. The leader of the Berti tribe said that, in general, the culture of the area values peace and the people are not troublemakers.Deployed at the beginning of 2008, UNAMID is tasked with protecting civilians, promoting an inclusive peace process and helping ensure the safe delivery of humanitarian assistance across Darfur, an arid region on Sudan’s western flank. read more