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Pakistan suspends mobile services, closes land borders to secure voting

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Pakistan temporarily suspended mobile phone services on Thursday to strengthen security as voting began in the country’s national election, the interior ministry said.

The government’s decision comes amidst a rise in militant attacks in the run-up to the election and a day after jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan urged his supporters to wait outside polling booths after voting until results are announced.

“As a result of the recent incidents of terrorism in the country precious lives have been lost, security measures are essential to maintain the law and order situation and deal with possible threats, hence the temporary suspension of mobile services across the country,” the interior ministry said in a message on X.

Two blasts near election offices on Wednesday killed 26 people in the southwestern province of Balochistan.

Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blasts in a message on its Telegram channel. Several other groups, including the Islamist Pakistani Taliban (TTP) and separatist Baloch militants oppose the Pakistani state and have also carried out attacks in recent months.

The country is on high alert with tens of thousands of troops and paramilitary soldiers on duty across the country, including at polling stations. Pakistan also said it was closing its borders with Iran and Afghanistan for the day for security purposes.

Unofficial first results in the election are expected a few hours after voting closes at 5 p.m. (1200 GMT) and a clear picture is likely to emerge early on Friday.

The main contests are expected to be between candidates backed by Khan, whose Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party won the last national election, and the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) of three-time premier Nawaz Sharif, who is considered the front-runner.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 35-year-old son of former premier Benazir Bhutto, has also run an aggressive campaign in an outside bid for the top office.

Analysts say there may be no clear winner but Pakistan’s powerful generals could play a role. Pakistan’s military has dominated the nuclear-armed country either directly or indirectly in its 76 years of independence but for several years it has maintained it does not interfere in politics.

“The deciding factor is which side the powerful military and its security agencies are on,” said Abbas Nasir, a columnist. “Only a huge turnout in favour of PTI can change its fortunes.”

The post Pakistan suspends mobile services, closes land borders to secure voting appeared first on DailyNews.

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