Pakistanis to vote in general election on Thursday

Voters in Pakistan will cast their ballots in a general election on Thursday amid political and economic turmoil.

More than 5,000 candidates are vying for 336 seats in the parliament.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who leads the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, could not run in the election as he was found guilty of corruption and later of leaking state secrets.

Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who heads the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, is seen as a leading contender. Experts say he enjoys good relations with the military, which has a strong influence on politics, and may win back power.

The election has been tainted by violence. Two explosions occurred near the offices of two candidates in the southwestern province of Balochistan on Wednesday, killing 24 people. The blasts are believed to have been intended to interfere with the vote.

Pakistan has a population of 240 million and is regarded as a virtual nuclear power.

In 2022 it was struck by devastating floods that reportedly inundated one-third of its land. Major industries, including agriculture, were hard hit. The nation remains in economic turmoil as a result of soaring prices and rising unemployment.

It remains to be seen whether the administration that will take the helm of the country can bring about stability in politics and the economy.