World|politics|July 24, 2018 / 11:57 AM
Security stepped up ahead of Pakistan's election

AKIPRESS.COM - Security is being tightened in Pakistan ahead of Wednesday's crucial elections, after a violent campaign in which hundreds have died in a series of terrorist attacks, Sky News reports.

Police and security forces are stepping up their presence across the country and the chief of Lahore's counter-terror police has told Sky News his forces are working to ensure the vote tomorrow goes smoothly.

"There are terrorism threats in some areas of Pakistan and its very unfortunate, but Lahore Police are quite capable and we are trying to do our best to prevent any such attacks," said Superintendent Nadeem Khokhar.

"Our main challenge is basically to keep the election campaigns as well as the security on election day, to keep it safe for the public who will come out of their houses for voting."

Tens of millions of Pakistanis will vote in an election that could have repercussions for the entire region.

If successful, the elections will mark only the second time a civilian government has handed power to another since the country's independence in 1947.

The race to be the country's next prime minister is tight, but most polls now predict a narrow victory for the former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan. It is likely he will have to form a coalition if he wants to govern though.

The all-powerful military has been accused of influencing the election in Mr Khan's favour by censoring news coverage.

Some believe it would suit the army to have a prime minister with only a thin majority, therefore giving them power behind the scenes.

During his final campaign rally, held in Lahore, Mr Khan told supporters he would wipe out corruption from the top of government.

Mr Khan is a sporting hero in Pakistan after he led the country to victory in the 1992 cricket World Cup. A social media trend with the hashtag #behindyouskipper has attracted messages of support from former international superstars including Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis - it has become one of the highest trending hashtags on social media in Pakistan.

His main opponent, the three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, was arrested on corruption charges when he landed in Lahore from London earlier this month.

He is now campaigning from prison in Islamabad and is reported to be suffering from kidney damage.

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