Islamabad: Bookies in the Pakistani garrison city of Rawalpindi have set aside cricket matches to take bets on the May 11 polls as many people are ready to stake big money on all developments linked to the general election.
People are willing to bet on the selection of candidates by political parties in key constituencies and even issues like former military strongman Pervez Musharraf`s recent return to the country, say bookmakers.
Yasir Mehmood, a 32-year-old bookmaker from Rawalpindi, usually accepted and paid for bets on cricket but he is receiving more calls these days from people ready to stake money on electoral developments.
"I am busy these days. These are perhaps the busiest days of a year. My cell phones are ringing almost incessantly for bets on the election and I see no let up until the next government is formed in the country," Mehmood told the Dawn newspaper.
Though players like Mehmood have no office and staff for their illegal business, they earn a lot of money by using mobile phones.
During the first phase, people are staking money on the selection of candidates by political parties in constituencies where a tough contest is expected.
In the past, bookies would put stake on contestants but this time, they are doing so on party tickets.
A restless Mehmood said he had not slept properly since the poll schedule was announced by the Election Commission.
"My business saw a surge in these days due to uncertainty over the announcement of candidates by political parties, especially for National Assembly seat 55 in the garrison city," he said.
Asked about events where bookies staked money, he said former President Pervez Musharraf`s homecoming had provided them an opportunity to take bets and many people lost thousands of rupees as they expected the government would not allow him to enter Pakistan.