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All set for Pakistan's landmark parliamentary elections


14:28, May 10, 2013

ISLAMABAD, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Chief Election Commissioner Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim said on Friday that the Election Commission of Pakistan has completed all arrangements to hold free fair and transparent elections.

"The power of vote can change destiny of the nation," he said in a statement, calling upon the people to exercise their right of franchise without any fear in May 11 elections.

Pakistan will go to the landmark parliamentary polls on Saturday to elect new government for the next five years.

The 20-day election campaign ended at midnight on Thursday with mainstream parties held big public meetings in the capital Islamabad and the eastern city of Lahore. Top political leaders were confident to win elections and form next government, urging the people to vote for them for a change.

Election for 342 National Assembly seats and 728 four provincial assembly seats will be held on the same day. Polling will begin at 8 a.m., and will continue until 5 p.m. without any break.

The Election Commission's data shows that a total of 23,079 candidates are in the run for the National Assembly and provincial assembly seats. There are a total of 86,162,639 registered voters including 37,548,676 female voters.

In view of a recent string of Taliban attacks and their threats to disrupt the process on the Election Day, security will be the major issue.

The military spokesman says that nearly 70,000 troops have been deployed in sensitive areas across Pakistan in aid of the police and other law enforcement agencies.

Chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, Hakimullah Mehsood, has issued a warning in a letter of attacks on the polling day. Taliban attacks have killed over 100 people and injured nearly 300 others during the election campaign. At least three candidates were killed in attacks where elections have been postponed.

The army's spokesman, Major General Asim Salim Bajwa, says that troops will be deployed at those areas which will be determined in collaboration with local administration while the intelligence agencies and local military commanders will also be consulted in this connection

Several dozen political and religious parties are taking part in the elections, however, the major contest will take place among the three major parties -- Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of President Asif Ali Zaradri, Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) led by former Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, and Pakistan Tehrik-e- Insaf (PTI) or Justice Movement of cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan.

Several other influential political, regional parties and nationalist groups are also in the run which have string presence but in limited areas. They include Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Awami National Party (ANP), PML-Q, Jamiat ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), Jamaat-e-Islami and some others nationalist groups.

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