Pak poll campaign ends tonight

Pak poll campaign ends tonight

Pakistani soldiers patrol on a street beside a billboard featuring an image of Pakistani cricketer turned politician Imran Khan (top L) of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (Movement for Justice), ahead of general election in Rawalpindi. AFP Photo

A two-month-long campaign by candidates and political parties for Pakistan's general election on Wednesday will come to an end at midnight tonight amid low voter enthusiasm and a tense security situation.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said as per rules the campaign must end at midnight so that voters can relax and prepare for the July 25 polls.

No candidate or party leader will address gatherings or corner meetings or take out processions after the deadline.

According to an ECP official, electronic and print media would also avoid telecasting or publishing political advertisements.

Anyone who contravenes ECP guidelines will be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with a Rs 100,000 fine.

The election campaign has generally been seen as low-key and has failed to enthuse voters as in previous polls.

There was also a sense of uncertainty due to court cases against leading politicians including Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif who was convicted and sent to jail for corruption.

The tactics by anti-corruption watchdog – National Accountability Bureau – have also hampered the campaign. Similarly, actions by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) against former president Asif Ali Zardari have also been questioned due to their timing.

A sudden spike in suicide attacks by militants have also affected the campaign. About 180 people, including three candidates, were killed in these attacks in the past two weeks.

But the contestants and leaders are making last ditch efforts to woo voters before the end of the deadline. PML-N chief Shahbaz Sharif will address rallies in Dera Ghazi Khan and Rawalpindi in Punjab while his son Hamza will organise a rally in Lahore.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan will address gatherings in Lahore, capital of Punjab and the chief battleground for ascendency to power in Pakistan.

Separately, Pakistan Peoples Party leader Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will speak at gatherings in Jacobabad and Shikarpur, the two areas in Sindh, which is a PPP stronghold.

The religious alliance of Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Sirajul Haq will also make a show of power in capital Islamabad. 

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