Pakistan Army chief votes, urges voters to defeat “inimical forces”

Islamabad | Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa today urged the people to vote to defeat the “inimical forces” working against the country, amid charges of manipulation by the powerful military in the general elections.

Gen. Bajwa and his wife exercised their franchise in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, the spokesperson for the military’s media wing said. He urged the people to “come out and vote undeterred” in order to defeat enemy forces working against Pakistan, Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted along with a picture of the stout army chief at the polling centre.

“‘We are target of inimical forces working against Pak. We’ve come a long way in our comprehensive national effort to fail them. We are united & steadfast to defeat them, and ‘TODAY’ through our ‘VOTES’. Please come out & vote undeterred’, COAS,” the tweet quoted Gen. Bajwa as saying.

Pakistanis are voting today in a cliffhanger general election pitting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s Imran Khan against jailed ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Bilawal Zardari Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party, with the prospect of no one party winning a clear majority in the National Assembly.

As many as 12,570 candidates are contesting for a total of 849 seats of national and provincial assemblies in the election. The run up to the elections have seen a massive crackdown on the media and allegations that the military has secretly backed the campaign of Khan while targeting his political opponents.

The military has ruled Pakistan through various coups for nearly half of the country’s history since independence in 1947. Even during the civilian rule, the generals have wielded enormous power, setting the agenda for the country’s foreign and security policies.

The Election Commission of Pakistan was also criticised for deploying soldiers both inside and outside of polling stations. In previous polls, the soldiers were only present outside the polling stations.

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