Pakistan votes for a new parliament as militant attacks surge and jailed leader’s party cries foul

Published On: February 8, 2024 09:40 AM NPT By: Associated Press

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistanis braved cold winter weather and the threat of violence to start voting for a new parliament Thursday even as the death toll from twin bombings a day before claimed at least 30 lives, in the worst election-related violence ahead of the contested elections.

Tens of thousands of police and paramilitary forces have been deployed at polling stations to ensure security. Still, on the eve of the election, a pair of bombings at election offices in the restive southwestern Baluchistan province killed at least 30 people and wounded more than two dozen others.

The balloting has also been marred by allegations from the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan that its candidates were denied a fair chance at campaigning in the runup to the vote. The cricket star-turned-Islamist politician — ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April 2022 — is now behind bars and banned from running but still commands a massive following. However, it remains unclear if his angry and disillusioned supporters will turn up at the polls in great numbers.

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