Polls have now closed in Pakistan's historic election, the first in which there will be a handover from one civilian government to another. Despite the Taliban's continuance of its campaign of violence, with bomb blasts in Karachi and Peshawar and a gun battle in Chaman that left 22 dead and more wounded, voter turnout was high. Pakistan's Election Commission (ECP) secretary, Ishtiak Ahmed Khan, told reporters that he expected the turnout to be as high as 60-80%, highly significant in a country where the previous highest turnout was just over 45%. PolicyMic's Shwetika Baijal writes that along with the huge turnout, the important role played by social media and the global press in the election, the Taliban's campaign of violence, and the way Pakistani women have defied them to not only come out to vote but also to contest the election all make this a truly historic election for Pakistan.
Preliminary results are already coming in, and show the Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) party led by prime minister Nawaz Sharif ahead and "almost certain to win 40 of the 272 National Assembly seats that were contested." A more detailed breakdown of results can be found here. Official results, however, are not expected to be out before Sunday.
PolicyMic pundit Areej Elahi-Siddiqui argues that the election has been marred by "rigging and a severe lack of transparency," with the ECP having "fallen extremely short" on its "broad promises of fair and free elections." The ECP extended polls by three hours in seven Karachi constituencies after complaints that ballot boxes and voting papers arrived late. The Commission has also ordered a re-vote in 42 polling stations in Karachi's NA-250 constituency following allegations of ballot stuffing.
This handy infographic from Al Jazeera explains how the Pakistan elections work:
All I can say now is go Imran Khan!