At least 31 people, including two policemen, were killed in a suicide bomb blast in Quetta today amidst the historical Pakistan general elections.
A suicide bomber blew himself up outside a polling station in Quetta. The Islamic State took responsibility for the attack on their Amaq website. At least 30 people were killed and up to 40 others were wounded. The Quetta Civil Hospital went into a state of emergency as it dealt with the injured.
Polling stations throughout the country have been ravaged with incidents of violence and terrorism, despite the army personnel stationed at every booth to maintain law and order. In addition to the attack in Quetta, a grenade attack in Khuzdar and a shooting in Swabi, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa killed at least one person each. Violence was also reported in Mardan, Rajanpur, Khipro and Kohistan.
People have also been wounded and killed in attacks on election rallies in the week leading up to the historical day. An attack (also claimed by the Islamic State) on a political rally in Mastung killed at least 149 people, making it the second-deadliest attack in Pakistani history.
The election cycle is a particularly emotional one for the country, with ousted and jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his party PML-N running against cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan and his party PTI. The tensions between the two have existed since the last elections in 2013, and supporters of both parties are extremely vocal this time around in their political affiliations, seeing this as a definitive moment in the history of Pakistan.
Imran Khan has been vocal about his ambition to curb corruption and bring accountability to Pakistan’s murky government system, but his rivals accuse him of allowing military involvement and leaning too heavily towards the right wing. Nawaz Sharif has been jailed for corruption and his involvement in the Panama Papers scandal, and is currently fighting against the establishment that brought him in at the start of his tenure as Prime Minister and later kicked him out.
Voting closed at 6:00 p.m. in the country, despite PML-N asking for an extension. The results are currently being counted, and will formally be announced early on Thursday, although media channels are rife with informal guesses. Regardless of the decision, this election cycle is historic as it marks only the second time a civilian government has handed power over to another in Pakistan: the military involvement in the country has always hindered the democratic process.
Pakistanis have been vocal on social media, addressing the elections, the violence in Quetta and the general lack of attention the province of Balochistan gets from national politicians. Politicians such as Imran Khan and PML-N’s Shehbaz Sharif also took to social media to express their condolences.
Balochistan paid the heaviest price for this election only to remain the most neglected after election. #Quetta
— Svengali (@Ronin212) July 25, 2018
This is a unique electoral eclxercise,for the first time in the electoral history of Pakistan, so many troops have been deployed for the security – 370,000 – around 70% of our total force. Quetta still bleeds.
— Marvi Sirmed मार्वि ماروی (@marvisirmed) July 25, 2018
1) Terrorist Hafiz Saeed casts Vote.
2) Radical Islamists contesting Polls.
3) Many killed in Quetta Blast
4) Many wounded in Larkana Explosion.
5) Women barred from Voting in Peshawar.
6) ISI interfering in Polls
Shashi Tharoor: India becoming Hindu Pakistan
— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) July 25, 2018
Quetta blast more than 18 Pakistanis killed it is obvious that enemies are trying to sabotage #Election2018 I am sure we will defeat our enemies today Pakistan will rise again tonight #PakistanKoVoteDo
— Hamid Mir (@HamidMirPAK) July 25, 2018
Strongly condemn the suicide bombing in Quetta where peaceful citizens were assembled to exercise their right to vote. Heartbreaking to hear of 23 fatalities so far.Balochistan has suffered limitlessly from militant violence. Salute to a people still turning out for #Eleccion2018
— SenatorSherryRehman (@sherryrehman) July 25, 2018
Pakistanis right now are risking their lives to vote – literally. Over 20 killed in Quetta today & the nation is responding w courage & resolve. This will be only the 2nd time in its history that a democratically elected goverment will hand over power to another elected goverment
— Wajahat Ali (@WajahatAli) July 25, 2018
Disturbing news from Quetta.
How much violence can one city take? ?
— Mosharraf Zaidi (@mosharrafzaidi) July 25, 2018
18 dead in Quetta in a likely suicide attack on polling day. A bomb attack in Larkana, Sindh combined with poor election day preparation by Election Commission and hundreds of complaints. This was supposed to be a great day.
— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) July 25, 2018
Deeply grieved at the loss of precious lives in Quetta today. These acts of terror can never break away the spirit of Pakistan. Pakistanis especially our Baloch brethren are a resilient nation. May Allah give them sabbar in these testing times.
— Jahangir Khan Tareen (@JahangirKTareen) July 25, 2018
I strongly condemn the terrorist attack on 2018 election "voters" in Quetta today which has taken many precious lives & left numerous injured. Gift must check these continuous terrorist attacks in Balochistan. Terrorists will never succeed!
— Mohammad Sarwar (@ChMSarwar) July 25, 2018
In total, over 30 political parties and 12,570 candidates are competing this election cycle. 106 million registered voters will be electing candidates to the national and provincial assemblies.