Millions of voters in Pakistan are casting ballots in a landmark election, the first peaceful turnover of power in the nation’s 66-year history. Security at polling stations is tightened amid widespread violence, as the Taliban deems voting anti-Islamic.
Polling stations officially opened at 8:00 am (0300 GMT) Saturday morning for the one-day elections.
By midday, the country’s election commission said the voter turnout was 30% – an indication that the total turnout looked set to cross the 44% mark of the last general election in 2008.
Meanwhile, an explosion is reported to have killed at least nine people and injured a number of others near a polling station in the southern city of Karachi.
On Friday, an independent candidate, who had been running for a seat in the assembly of Pakistan’s Sindh Province, was shot dead in Karachi.
Shakil Ahmed and two supporters were killed on Friday night in the Landhi area, police said.
The election marks the first time in the country’s 65-year history that a civilian government has completed its full term and handed over power in democratic elections.
Previous governments have been toppled by military coups or sacked by presidents allied with the powerful army.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group previously announced that they would target the election rallies of three political parties, the Awami National Party (ANP), the MQM, and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
The voters will elect 272 legislators to the 342-member National Assembly and legislators to four provincial assemblies.