About 371,000 soldiers were stationed at polling stations across the country to prevent attacks, nearly five times the number deployed at the last election in 2013.
Violence has erupted nonetheless, with at least 31 dead in the worst attack, a suspected suicide bomb in the city if Quetta.
The election battle is predominantly between the parties of ex-cricket star Imran Khan (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf or PTU) and the disgraced former PM Nawaz Sharif (Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz or PML-N).
According to the latest opinion polls, neither Khan nor Sharif are likely to win a clear majority in the election.
Khan has emerged as a slight favourite in national opinion polls, but the divisive race is likely to come down to Punjab, the country’s most populous province, where Sharif’s party has clung to its lead in recent surveys.
About 106 million people are registered to vote in polls due to close at 6pm (2pm BST).
Results will start trickling in within hours, and the likely winner should be known by around 2am (10pm BST) on Thursday.
Here is the latest news and live updates on the Pakistan election and results.
6.15pm update: First unofficial results are in
Three important constituencies in Punjab have shown Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N taking the lead, in the former Prime Ministers political heartland.
Voted need to be counted in 85,307 polling stations with more unofficial results expected to keep trickling in.
In total 849 seats are up for grabs, with 12,570 candidates hoping to occupy them.
Here are the National Assembly (NA) counts in Punjab so far:
- NA-125: PML-N’s Waheed Alam leads with 2313 votes, PTI’s Yasmin Rashid has 673 votes.
- NA-128: PML-N’s Rohail Asghar leads with 88 votes, PTI’s Aijaz Ahmed has 41.
- NA-78: PML-N’s Ahsan Iqbal leads in Narowal-2 with 313 votes, Abrarul Haq has 103 votes.
However, Imran Khan’s PTI seems to be gaining the lead elsewhere in the country.
4pm update: First results expected any minute now.
We are also waiting for the official numbers regarding voter turnout today.
The highest turnouts in Pakistan’s history were in 1970 and 1977, with 63 percent.
The last general elections in 2013 saw a less impressive 55 percent.
106 million people were registered to vote today.
3.20pm update: Hundreds of complaints received by the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (ECP)
Pakistani journalist Zahid Gishkori tweeted the list, which breaks the 645 complaints lodged into provinces, as well as the gender desk which was established to deal with women’s complaints specifically.
Pakistan election: The breakdown of complaints
3pm: Kate Whitfield taking over live reporting from Vickiie Oliphant
2.46pm update: Army head praises Pakistan after polls close
Major General Asif Ghafor, the head of the media wing of the Pakistan army, said: “Thank you fellow Pakistanis. World has seen your love & respect for Pak Armed Forces & LEAs today.
“You have rejected all kinds of malicious propaganda. We are strong because we have your unflinching support. Our lives are dedicated to Pakistan and its People.
“Pakistan wins again!
2.33pm update: First results expected imminently
The first results will be announced at 7pm (3pm BST)
2.15pm: Four people killed in a late-night attack, according to a military statement
Three soldiers and one civilian were killed late on Tuesday night when militants ambushed an army team, the military’s media wing said in a statement.
The statement did not specify which militant group was involved but said the ambush took place at Dashtuk, near Pakistan’s border with Iran.
The death toll from an earlier attack as polling stations opened this morning has risen to 29.
2.00pm update: Polls have now CLOSED
Polls have closed in the historic Pakistan election.
Votes will now be counted and an indication is expected at 10pm.
12.53pm update: The PPP has complained about local rigging
A headed letter read: “Rigging at Kohisar female polling station is reported.
“Supporters of opponent candidate have attacked PPP Polling Agent and also dint allow him to enter in polling station.”
They also accused campaigners of openly distributing money as a bride to change the way people vote.
12.50pm update: More requests for polling station closure time to be delayed have been submitted to ECP
Awami Muslim League (AML) chief Sheikh Rashid has requested the election commissioner to extend polling time by an hour.
Rashid said that the polling staff is working at a very slow pace, demanding that they should be directed to increase their pace in order to facilitate the voters.
1.55pm update: ECP summons Imran Khan for breaching secrecy of ballot
PTI chief Imran Khan has been summoned by the ECP on July 30 for breach of secrecy of ballot.
Khan’s vote had been televised on electronic media as he had chosen to vote in the open rather than behind the secrecy screen as required by the law.
11.46am update: Four people die on the way to a polling station
A mini jeep taking voters to polling stations in the Battagram District, 283km north of Islamabad, fell into a deep gorge.
Four people have died.
11.11am update: Plea to extend voting time by an hour rejected by ECP
The ECP has rejected a PML-N request to extend the voting time by an hour.
The PML-N had made the request citing slow polling at stations.
But the ECP has made it clear that only those voters who are already inside polling stations by 6pm will be allowed to cast their vote.
11.07am update: The PTI warns Khan’s vote could be declared void
The PTI issued a response saying the party chief Imran Khan has not violated any election rules after claims his vote would be declared void for supposedly breaking ECP rules.
The spokesman also has urged the ECP to take action against the so-called ‘fake news’ circulating about his actions.
“Taking notice against a particular party’s leader may present an unbalanced view and compromise the elections,” the party has said.
The PTI also criticised the ECP for not doing it’s ‘duty’ to curtail the spread of unverified media reports.
Pakistan election: Imran Khan voted this morning
11.04am update: PPP makes a complaint against polling stations barring women
The PPP has formally filed a complaint to the ECP amid claims women are being stopped from voting.
It reads: “Female voters are being stopped from casting their votes by Army personnel inside polling stations.
“You are requested to kindly instruct the Army personnel to perform their duties outside the female polling stations.”
10.52am update: PMLN asks for an extension to polling station opening hours
Polling stations in Pakistan are due to close at 6pm (2pm BST) tonight.
But the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, led by Shabaz Sharif, has requested they stay open for another hour until 7pm after a raft of delays.
In a statement, the party said: “There are long lines of voters waiting in the queue while only three to four persons are allowed to enter the polling station at a time to cast their vote.
“This is not only causing inconvenience to voters standing in long lines in the hot and humid weather, but it also may end up depriving people of their right to vote because of this tedious, slow, cumbersome voting procedure adopted by personnel at almost all the polling station in Pakistan.”
Pakistan election: Voters are expected to elect a hung parliament
Pakistan election: Armed guards are policing polling stations
10.42am update: Seven polling agents being interrogated in Karachi
Korangi police officials are interrogating seven polling agents for bringing downloaded copies of forms 40 and 45 from the ECP website with them.
The forms were supposed to be provided to the polling agents by their respective presiding officers.
But as they brought the forms with themselves, the presiding officer deemed it a violation and reported the incident.
“They all are polling agents of three different political parties whose candidates were contesting on NA-238 Karachi,” said DIG Amir Farooqi.
10.31am update: All three leading candidates accused of breaking ECP rules
Imran Khan faced a backlash earlier today when he gave a televised speech after voting, which is banned by electoral laws.
Now all major politicians, including Imran Khan, Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Butto Zhadari, have spoken to reporters after casting their vote.
And the Electoral Commission of Pakistan (the ECP) has taken an exception to it.But it is not known whether this will see the results declared void – or if the ECP will act on the rule breaking.
Pakistan election: Millions are expected to vote today
10.24am update: Lahore voting station facing difficulties
Some voters at a poll station in Lahore say Army isn’t allowing entry.
Women, many of whom are voting for the first time in their lives, have turned up in their droves to vote but claim they are being turned away.
One woman said: “They’re saying there are many women inside and we won’t be let in’. They’re saying there are 2 booths inside so they won’t allow those who are allotted 3rd booth.”
Clashes have also been reported between workers from the PMLN and PTI, the main election rivals, which have led to polling being halted in Lahore and Chiniot.
10.21am update: Voter service crashes due to high demand
Voters can check their vote by sending a text message with their Computerised National Identity Card (CNIC) number without the dash to 8300.
A reply message will then be sent containing their name and electoral area.
The message will also include a serial number of the voters registered in the initial electoral rolls.
But the 8300 SMS service is suffering technical difficulties this morning due to increased user requests.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has said that its 8300 SMS service is down due to increased requests from voters for their data.
The ECP reportedly earned Rs50 million from the 8300 service in just two days.
Pakistan Election 2018: Latest pictures from the polling stations
Wed, July 25, 2018
Polls have opened in Pakistan for the country’s parliamentary elections
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10.19am updates: Seven arrested for supposedly trying to rig the vote
Seven people, including one woman, have been arrested from different polling stations in Karachi for allegedly taking part in rigging activities.
Police officials say the arrested individuals were polling parties’ polling agents and were arrested on the instructions of presiding officers.
10.00am update: Former army chief casts his vote
Former army chief, retired Gen Raheel Sharif, cast his vote today in Lahore.
9.51am update: Kingmaker candidate votes in Pakistan election
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, son of the assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhuttoand leader of centre-left, secular Pakistan People’s party (PPP) has voted.
He was accompanied by his sisters Bakhtawar and Aseefa and his aunt Sanam Bhutto.
He posted a smiling snap on Twitter, showing his purple thumb which reveals he has voted, with the caption: “Voted! Every vote counts.”
9.45am update: There have been ‘no reports of rigging so far’
Former chief minister of Punjab praised the Pakistani army for holding transparent elections, amid rumours of corruption.
Chaudry Pervaiz Elahi said: “There are no reports of rigging so far.”
But the election has already been fraught with controversy, with a number of deadly attacks while the leading candidate Nawaz Sharif was jailed for ten years.
Pakistan election: Women voting in Lahore have been turned away
Pakistan election: Bilawal Butto Zhadari voted this morning
933am update: Who’s who in Pakistan election?
Imran Khan is standing for the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
Nawaz Shariff was jailed for ten years recently, so his brother Shabaz will stand as the candidate for Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).
Bilawal Bhutto Zhadari is expected to play kingmaker as the candidate for the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
9.17am update: Imran Khan accused of casting his vote in violation of ECP rules
TV footage shows Imran stamping the ballot paper in full public view at the presiding officer’s table instead of inside the polling booth in secret.
Khan was already under fire for delivering a televised speech to the media after casting his vote in Islamabad.
The Election Commission of Pakistan said the speech was in clear violation of its rules, which has a ban on electoral speech-making from midnight on election day.
9.12am update: Election is closely-fought – and it is not known who could clinch victory today
The knife-edge general election will pit cricket hero Imran Khan against the party of jailed ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Many expect the vote to result in a hung parliament.
If this is the case, some of the 27 smaller groups may end up playing kingmaker in order to help form a government.
There have been allegations of military interference throughout the campaign period and there has been deadly violence including a suicide bomb that killed 132 people.
Pakistan election: Imran Khan voted in public – breaking ECP guidlines
8.50am update: Islamic State claimed responsibility for the explosion, according to the group’s AMAQ news agency.
At least 24 people were killed and 35 injured in the blast in the western city of Quetta, which happened as Pakistanis vote in a knife-edge national election.
The group said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber but did not provide further detail or evidence for its claim.
8.34am update: Seven injured as more clashes erupt at a women polling station
Seven people have been injured during clashes between two rival political groups at a women polling station in Khipro.
Polling was halted at the station.
The dispute started between voters of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) as a woman was stopped from casting her vote on technical reasons.
According to news agency Dawn those injured are GDA’s Abid Hingorjo who has been sent to a hospital to Hyderbad.
Others, including GDA’s Nazar Hingorjo and Anwar Hingorjo and PPP’s Anwar Marri, Mir Muhammad Marri, Ali Ahmed and Kando Marri have been shifted to Khipro taluka hospital.
8am update: Bomb blast kills dozens in attack outside polling station
At least 25 people have been killed in a blast on a police van in Pakistan, hours after polling stations for the country’s general election opened – but what time does voting end today?
The attack happened in the western city of Quetta, with reports from one local TV station indicating a “suicide attacker” may be responsible.
At this stage it is unclear whether the bomb will have any effect on voting but security officials warned the death toll is likely to rise.