By Waleed Tariq:

The elections, in which about 86 million people were qualified to vote, will bring Pakistan’s first transition between two civilian governments in its 66-year long history. An elected government completed its full term, put in place an independent Election Commission, and handed power to a neutral interim set-up allowing free and fair elections.

A string of militant attacks and gunfights that killed at least 11 people on Saturday cast a long shadow over Pakistan’s general elections, however millions still turned out to vote ― youth’s participation was at its peak. Tens of thousands of troops were deployed at polling stations after the Pakistani Taliban threatened to carry out suicide attacks.

Reports of poll-rigging were common. In Karachi, the country’s commercial centre, Pakistan’s election commission is quoted as saying that it has “been unable to carry out free and fair elections in Karachi“.

The youth bulge suggests that Imran Khan has been the most popular leader. However, doubts about him are just as strong as the support for him, which comes from fellow Pathans in KPK and certain areas in the Punjab. His stand often reveals confusion, inability to articulate his stand, and a lack of realism. PTI’s manifesto is no different than any other party ― “wish list” which does not include any hint over the legislative process. Khan’s “doctrine of change” (which he terms “tsunami”) is a message of change in status quo, a revolutionary transformation in the existing political culture.

The Pakistan People’s Party is expected to win the most seats in Sindh and come third in the number seats in the National Parliament. It has lost support in the Baluchistan, Punjab and KPK where it had popular support in the 2008 Elections.

Certainly there are more charismatic politicians in Pakistan than Nawaz Sharif, but at the moment, all indications are that PMLN would emerge as the party with the largest number of seats in the next parliament.

Notably remembered for carrying out nuclear tests, he is a former two-time premiere and chief minister of Punjab who is heading the country’s second largest political group; Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMLN). For this reason, he remains to be one of the most probable prime ministerial candidates. Politically, Sharif is a right-wing corporate-affiliated entrepreneur committed to the rightist prescriptions of economic policy planning in Pakistan.

History tells us, a nation’s destiny is made by historical acts of outstanding human determination, heroic sacrifices by its leaders and a commitment to selfless service to people’s welfare. I believe Sharif has the capacity to respond to the peoples’ demands, and make personal sacrifices worthy of a legendary leader. The polls held today are vital for the PMLN’s future political fate in Pakistan.

All the latest opinion polls have tapped him as the front runner. However, Imran Khan’s PTI is a threat to be taken seriously with its millions of young, urban voters allegedly on its side. Punjab is Sharif’s home turf. May 11 has decided the fate and future course for Pakistan. Results are coming in, let’s see who wins Pakistan. Will Pakistan change today?

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