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Last Updated: Monday, 18 February 2008, 12:57 GMT
Pakistan election as it unfolds



Pakistan election montage

Voting has now ended in Pakistan. Throughout the day people across the country sent in their voting experiences and views of the mood on the streets in their area.


1700 local time: Parachinar - Peshawar: Dr Jabar Ali:

Voting i n Peshawar

I am in Peshawar now. I drove down here from Parachinar with patients who were injured in a bomb blast there on Saturday. Dozens of people were killed in that blast, most of them young. People lost their limbs. This is no way for a democracy to be.

I have visited one polling station in Peshawar while on a drive from Parachinar. It was not very busy. Previously there used to be a lot of bustle.

People here are not participating because of fears of bombings. They are not really interested.

I am very sorry to see that elections have been held like this. It should not have been like this. We have lost a great leader in Benazir and now people are very fearful.

Even here in Peshawar, the situation is very uncertain.

I am very depressed because this is not the Pakistan we wanted. Democracy has not delivered in Pakistan. I wish more people could have voted for change.

1650 local time: Turbat, Balochistan: Zamran Khan:

Zamran Khan

We are here in the northern mountain areas of Balochistan. People here aren't interested in taking part in the election. Only very few people have participated.

People in this district support the Baloch nationalist parties and they have boycotted the election. As a result, many people around here have.

I too condemn the election. Some polling stations are even closed. It is a different reality in this part of Pakistan.

1640 local time: Larkana, Sindh: Zamzam Aman:

The day was good. I went to the polling station at noon. At that time, there was no rush.

In my view, seeing how the process was handled, there was no chance of rigging at all. Everything seemed to go smoothly.

Zamzam Aman
Very few people were there for voting. As time passed, when people came to know that there had been no violence, then people started coming out of their houses.

Still they are going to vote.

These elections should help bring democracy - people here are starving for democracy. Our country is facing a crisis. Bringing real choice to the people is the foremost challenge for the new prime minister.

1640 local time: Bahawalpur, Punjab: Muhammad Aleem:

I am back in my hometown Bahawalpur to vote. The electoral process here seems peaceful amid lack of enthusiasm and fears of post-poll rigging.

Our local polling station was not very crowded. I think only about 30 or 40 percent of people cast their votes.

I cast my vote for PML-N, Nawaz Sharif's party. I think it is a very close contest between that party and the Pakistan People's Party of Benazir Bhutto.

I think the main challenge for the new prime minister would be to provide law and order and to provide the basic necessities of life. I am an engineer and I work hard to maintain my standard of living but inflation is a great problem.

1615 local time: Khazana, Peshawar: Shaheen Zeb:

Peshawar polling station
The school in Peshawar where Shaheen was a polling officer

We have finished early at the polling station so we have just left.

It was very nice today. In the morning we were very tense. Now there is no tension. It was very easy. It wasn't as stressful as I thought it was going to be.

Not a single woman turned up and I feel that women didn't have permission or encouragement to turn up from their husbands.

One party boycotted the election and so that might make a difference. There was nothing to do for the female polling officers.

1600 local time: Lahore: Ahmad Hammad:

I have cast my vote for Nawaz Sharif's party. The polling station was quite calm. In Lahore fear was supposed to be prevailing all over. But all was calm. The polling booths were not too crowded.

We worry about the transparency of these elections
There have been a few terrifying incidents. One of the candidates for the provincial assembly was killed last night in Lahore. This really created panic in the city.

I am at the television station now where I present my programme. We are getting data that the turnout at these elections is not very high.

There is a boycott issue here: Imran Khan has boycotted the election and he is very influential among the young of Pakistan.

We have been quite concerned about the power of President Musharraf. We all worry about the transparency of these elections.

1550 local time: Quetta: Saif-ud-din Shahwani:

Saif-ud-din Shahwani
Everything is going well. But the turnout is very low. I am officiating at a polling station - I am a polling officer for a professional area in Quetta.

I managed to cast my own vote where I live. There too the turnout there was very low. People were afraid because of the violence yesterday. There was a blast in another polling station yesterday.

I voted for the PML-Q, the ruling party. The candidate is very strong here. He has a good manifesto and has declared himself to be one of the politicians of the future. He got my vote.

The atmosphere is very peaceful and very calm and security is very tight but I am afraid that people are not very excited, they are just frightened.

1530 local time: Islamabad: Sultana Noon:

Sultana Noon
I went around noon today and voted for an independent (female) candidate. Although I know that the candidate I voted for doesn't stand a chance, I supported her to show my opposition to the main contesting parties.

I was tempted to simply boycott the elections but then I felt that doing so would not give me the right to criticise the new government.

The voter turnout seemed extremely low. The PML-N and PPP party members were sitting under tents outside the government college where we went to vote.

They had their own lists of registered voters they told me that I was not on the list. I went into the college anyway to see if my name was there and it was! A woman there gave me my voting number and I was all set.

I was tempted to simply boycott the elections
Whatever the result turn out may be, I feel empowered because I am 25 years old and got to vote for the first time in my life!

1445 local time: Abbottabad, NWFP: Majid Ali:

Voting in Abbottabad
Majid sent this photograph of voting in his area

I went to polling station at 9am. For the national assembly I voted for Nawaz Sharif's party, the PML - N. For the provincial assembly I voted for the Pakistan People's Party candidate.

At the polling station people were so enthusiastic and there as a lot of hustle and bustle. They are going to vote for their favourite candidate. There was a good atmosphere and people are looking forward to the evening when we will find out who won.

I tried my best. Every voter thinks his vote can change the future and the country's political destiny.

Nowadays there are suicide bombings and many people die in these. I feel the people of this country want Musharraf out of power. He has gone too far and he is no longer popular. If he wants to remain in power I would ask him to conduct a survey and find out what people really want.

We are living in a very calm city here. There are no real security concerns. Men and women have been coming to vote here - there is no fear.

1420 local time: Swat valley: Najeeb Ullah:

Najeeb Ullah

I went to the polling station and talked to some friends. There was a very low turn out. I saw about 20 men outside one polling station. My friend told me that in his polling station too hardly anybody turned up.

People are scared.

Yesterday, one of our villagers said that he saw three suicide attackers. I thought he was joking, but within a few minutes, firing broke out here in our village. Police came and chased the three men. One was killed, one wounded.

Everybody saw the dead body of one militant.

Rumours of violence and of bomb blasts means that people will not go to vote.

1350 local time: Karachi: Umair Mirza:

voters
Umair sent this picture of voters at his polling station

I went out and voted for the Pakistan People's Party (PPP). It was energetic at the polling station, so busy. There were lots of boys, lots of old men, there was a great crowd.

It was amazing. I went with my whole family, even my mother went. There was a real great family atmosphere.

I didn't see all that many women there. Women don't usually get out much and so there weren't so many. Although I cast my vote for the PPP I expect nothing but the rigging of this election.

On television we heard about the harassment of various people and violence across the country over the weekend.

I am unusual in Karachi because everybody here votes for the MQM party- but I didn't. I am afraid of the rigging of this election.

1330 local time: Tandoallahyar village, Sindh: Faisal Mushtaq:

This day, this election, shall change the political course of Pakistan. Pakistan is a great country, with rich democratic principles.

I flew thousands of miles from Islamabad to Karachi just to vote here at my family village Tandoallahyar. My vote together with every citizen's vote matters!

I have voted in favour of Pakistan Muslim League - Q (PML-Q), as this party has the best working relationship with President Musharraf and the army, and in such troubled hours Pakistani politics must work in the national interest.

We must have a strong working relationship with the army, presidency and the parliament.

1305 local time: Lahore: Asim Hafeezullah:

Round here people are from an extended clan - and they are all having political arguments
I am the principal of an international school and the government has set up two polling stations here. We didn't know it was going to happen. The government did not notify us.

There are 5,930 registered voters at the two stations.

Voting is very, very heavy, especially in the female section. There aren't enough female presiding officers, there are about 70 or 80 people in the queue.

The situation is tense. There are arguments. Round here people are from an extended clan and they all vote for different parties and they are all having political arguments. Our own security as well as special reserve police has been deployed here.

The candidates have set up tents outside our gates. Although we have seven polling booths set up, it is difficult to cope. We have had a visit from a team of international observers.

1215 local time: Lahore: Basma Khan:

Basma Khan

I have just returned after casting my vote. I voted for the Pakistan People's Party (PPP).

I was unsure while I was casting my vote but I thought it would be a final tribute to Benazir Bhutto.

In our area, most people are giving their vote to Nawaz Sharif. Almost all the people I met at the polling station were voting for him.

Everything was very peaceful at the polling station. The police have been deployed for security. I feel there is no major security risk but just hype created by those who do not want people to come out and vote.

It's still early so the turnout is a bit low. Hopefully it will increase. The three major political parties have set up camps outside the polling booths to aid their supporters.

I urge Pakistanis to please go and vote. Do not waste this chance. It's now or never and every vote counts.

1145 local time: Islamabad: Maira Zahur:

Maira Zahur

I just returned from the polling station. The pace of voting was extremely slow. I asked an official how many people had turned up and she said that so far only 2% of voters have turned up. She said that if the pace continues, it will remain at that.

I cast my vote for the PML-N - the party of Nawaz Sharif. I can't say if they will win in Islamabad. In my family, among my friends and on my street everybody has different political opinions.

It's a holiday here today because of the election and it really feels like a weekend. People might go for picnics. I don't think it will be used for voting purposes.

I think we have a responsibility to go out and vote even though I don't have any faith in the election process. I fear that it will be rigged and I fear that external observers will endorse the election because Musharraf is a useful ally.

I wish that I could push people out of their homes to vote.

1100 local time: Parachinar, Kurram tribal agency: Dr Jabar Ali:

Map of Parachinar

The election here in Parachinar has been postponed because of the bomb blast on Saturday. Many people were killed. I am a doctor and I am helping to look after many of the patients who were injured in the blast.

There is great uncertainty here so the returning officer wrote to the election commission and requested the postponement.

We are not feeling happy about this decision. It was not really necessary. Elections could have been held here. People are mourning but in the rural areas it is stable. We could have voted.

This tribal agency is quite different from other tribal areas. We have no ban on female education. In every village there is a school for women. We are the only agency with a degree college for women. We are against Talebanisation and we are against military rule.

Because this is a tribal area everybody has to contest the elections as an independent because they cannot stand for national parties here.

Elections could have been held here. People are mourning but in the rural areas it is stable
Despite that, people in this area have party loyalties. I think there are many Pakistan People's Party (PPP) supporters here. I personally support the secular Awami National Party.

1030 local time: Khazana polling station, Peshawar: Shaheen Zeb:

Men waiting outside the Khazana polling station where Shaheen is officiating
So far only men have turned out to vote at Shaheen's polling station

There are lots of men here and no women. There are many old men turning up. Some look like they are about 100 years old. There are also young boys milling about.

It is getting late in the morning and so far not a single lady has turned up to vote. We are sitting here in the women's section of the polling station, an old rundown classroom, all alone.

I feel disappointed and sad. The general feeling is that no women are going to turn up here today. I look at the state of the classroom and I just wish women would come and see what they could vote for.

I've heard about a bomb blast in an area where my husband is now and I'm worried. People feel it is too scary to let the women go about.

1000 local time: Larkana, Sindh Province: Zamzam Aman:

I'm a doctor and I support the Pakistan People's Party. I will go out to vote at 12 noon and I'm confident we are going to win the election here.

This is Benazir Bhutto's hometown and today we are really missing her.

When she was here, there was so much enthusiasm in people. There were lots of rallies, people were happy and interested in elections.

But now, there is no enthusiasm in people of Larkana. The voters are scared of terrorist attacks on polling centres.

Earlier we were told by the authorities that there will be very heavy security at the polling centres.

This is Benazir Bhutto's hometown and today we are really missing her
But a friend who is working at a polling station has now told me that no extra army or Pakistani rangers have been deployed here. It is only the local police who are manning the centres. So I don't think not many people will come out to vote.

0930 local time: Swat Valley: Najeeb Ullah:

A monument at the centre of Najeeb's village
There was violence in Najeeb's village in Swat valley

The situation is very tense here. Anything can happen, anytime.

A bomb blast on Saturday killed two military men. There were three blasts in nearby villages on Sunday and no one knows how many people were killed.

I live in Kanju village and here too, there was an encounter between the police and militants on Sunday. One militant was killed in the clash and many saw his body.

Another man was killed by security forces when he was trying to set off a bomb in a school.

I'm out in the town and I don't expect a high turnout.

There are three types of people in Swat.

One group, which comprises 50% voters, is too afraid to go out and vote.

The second, which is about 30% of voters, is boycotting the elections because they believe it will not be fair and transparent.

Only the remaining 20%, who want to put an end to dictatorship and want to see real democracy in the country, will go out and vote.

0900 local time: Karachi: Tasawur Ali:

Karachi is quite sunny this morning, the weather is very pleasant and I think voters will not have a problem queuing up at the polling centres.

The mood here is upbeat, last night people were up till late and everyone was very jubilant
The streets are deserted so far, but that's nothing extraordinary. The people of Karachi are not early-risers. We get up around 1100, so voting will pick up after that.

Because of the elections, it's a holiday and most people are enjoying it.

Karachi has 20 constituencies in the national assembly and there are 6m registered voters.

I'm a supporter of the MQM party and we are going to make a clean sweep in Karachi.

The mood here is upbeat, last night people were up till late and everyone was very jubilant. We are expecting a high turn-out with 40 to 50% voters casting their vote today.

There are security concern in some areas of North West Frontier Province, but in Karachi city, it's quiet and peaceful.

0830 local time: Quetta: Bijjar Baloch:

Bijjar Baloch
I haven't stepped out of home today. I'll go out a bit later to see what's happening. Only a few people I know have gone out to vote yet.

There is a lot of tension in Quetta - there were 11 bomb blasts here on Saturday, there was also a lot of violence on Sunday. And during the weekend, there was very little traffic on the streets.

I think very few people here will cast their vote. Everyone here knows there is large-scale rigging and the results are fixed.

The news channels here have been showing reports of thousands of ballot papers being stolen so we have no faith in the elections.

I'm not going to vote, I have no interest in these elections. Also, people are worried if that the polling centres may be targeted for bomb explosions.

0800 local time: Peshawar: Shaheen Zeb:

Shaheen Zeb

It is early morning here and a bright sun is shining. The weather is mild, very lovely, it's improved in the last few days. The cold has lessened.

I'm a school teacher and have an official role at a polling centre in the Khazana Sugar Mill village. I have already been to two polling stations but was turned away because they were the wrong ones.

I'm still trying to locate the right one, but it's a big village and there are many centres here.

People have started to come out; at the second centre I saw about 30-35 people waiting. I don't know if they were all there to vote, or whether some people had just come out to look around or be with their relatives.

I don't think I will be able to vote today since my polling station is far away from here, it is about five hours away and since I'm on duty here, it will be difficult for me.

I have been so tense for the last two or three days. The situation here is so volatile, I pray to Allah that everything passes off peacefully.





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