A string of militant attacks and gunfights that killed at least 17 people cast a long shadow over Pakistan's general election on Saturday, but millions still turned out to vote in a landmark test of the troubled country's democracy.
The poll, in which some 86 million people were eligible to vote, will bring the first transition between civilian governments in a country ruled by the military for more than half of its turbulent history.
But in the commercial centre, Karachi, the country's biggest city, several voters complained of irregularities and intimidation and the election commission said the process was flawed.
Polls were meant to close at 1700 local time (1200 GMT) but a one-hour extension was granted because many people still had not voted.
Despite the searing heat, many went to the polls excited about the prospect of change in a country that is plagued with Taliban militancy, a near-failed economy, endemic corruption, chronic power cuts and crumbling infrastructure.
Tired voters who were excited and hopeful and also those who were disappointed with the irregularities and the inefficiency of the electoral process took to Facebook and Twitter and shared their good and bad experiences. Here are a few of them.
Salute to my dad . he has a frozen (right) shoulder and has a lot of weakness (due to his recent illness that caused him to be hospitalized for a week). he was on a wheelchair and had his oxygen cylinder (which obviously we had to drag into the polling booth with us) , but he still went with us and voted. he was extremely overjoyed to have become part of the 'change'. Me and my youngest brother also voted for the first time in our lives.
My mom was the first person in my entire family to vote for pti over a decade ago. today all of us 5 family members voted for pti.(Facebook: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf)
Description:If my 92 year old grandfather can go cast his first ever vote for a Naya Pakistan, then what's stopping you?(Facebook – Hamna Qureshi)
Description: We went out and we did it with the bravest mother we have, Alhamdulillah.
Irrespective of the winning candidate, this one's for a better Pakistan. If only MQM doesn't win (PLEASEEEEE, DEAR GOD!) (Facebook: Ayesha Husain)
Description:Four (4) hours in a long lane under burning sun...Huuu finally I and my family casted vote. Glad to see in a terrible hot environment thousands of people standing since morning.... Still laughing, sharing smiles, supporting each others and bit kir kir.... Proud Pakistanis. (Farheen Naveed – Facebook)
Sara Jamil viaHumans of Karachi
“An old baba come out after casting his vote grinning toothlessly. "Kiss ko vote diya?" Shouts someone from the crowd waiting their turn. Hands up in the air he shouts, ‘Pakistan ko beta!(For Pakistan)’”
These were some moving and heartfelt experiences shared by the Pakistani voters on social media. These hopeful voters are now eagerly waiting for the results. Let’s wish Pakistan best of luck and a better future.
Note: This editorial doesn’t reflect any bias towards any political party.