Pakistanis go to polls amidst hopes for better tomorrow
Sabir Chaudhry is going to cast the first ever vote of his life on Wednesday, believing that the new government will steer the country out of the economic and security challenges it has been facing for years.
"Last five years were very challenging for Pakistan's economy, the forthcoming years will be even crucial so we have no choice but to select the party who will complete the projects initiated by the CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) and other programs without any financial corruption," Chaudhry told Xinhua while waiting for customers at his denim pants in a busy market of Islamabad on the election eve.
Chaudhry, 30, who could cast his vote after turning 18, as per country's law, said he never took elections seriously, but now he believes that he should play his part to elect a candidate, which is sincere with the country and work to bring a positive change in Pakistan.
According to the country's election commission, there are over 100 million registered voters in Pakistan in four provinces and capital Islamabad who will elect candidates from their favorite political parties.
People are excited to choose their future leaders. Streets are laden with party flags and many cars roaming in the cities with banners and signs of political parties and election candidates.
Survey results coming ahead of general elections indicate a close competition between the last ruling party Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan's political party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf, with four-time ruling party Pakistan Peoples' Party expected to be at number three.
Voters believe that the election will be acting as a game changer for the country and the new government will work better than the previous ones as the people of the country are more aware about the "power of their vote" than before.
Nadeem Ali, a trader in Islamabad, told Xinhua that the election has empowered people to decide their future by themselves.
"This is a great opportunity as it helps us choose our rulers. We can vote for the people who have performed, and change those who did not. We have been voting since years and now people know the value of their vote."
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said that the election material including ballot boxes, seals, polling booths, ink, ballot papers and other necessary items were delivered to polling stations across the country amid tight security.
The ECP and security agencies have issued threat alert for several polling stations in the country, and to avoid any untoward situation, army and other law enforcement agencies have taken over polling situation.
As the election fever gripped the country, stock exchange also experienced a bullish trend and gained 875 points a day ahead of the polls.
Local TV channels ran special election transmission a day ahead of the election, predicting and analyzing the situation of various constituencies.
Apart from this, famous restaurants in different cities announced special discount for the people who will visit them after polling their votes, in order to motivate more people to poll votes.
Local showbiz and sports celebrities also took to social media, urging people to vote for the suitable candidate.
Cricket legend Shoaib Akhtar said in a tweet, "Tomorrow (Wednesday) is an important day please do go out and vote. Your vote will decide the future of the country hence please don't waste it."
Talking to Xinhua, Shagufta Begum, a female campaigner for a national assembly candidate, said that future of Pakistan will be bright if people do not get drifted by "fake promises" of election candidates and vote for the right people.
"We tell people to come out their houses to vote as it is their national responsibility. Our purpose is to educate them that they should not waste their vote by electing the people who are not serious about welfare of the public, as the country's future can only be decided by their votes."