With only four days left for the general elections in Pakistan, all mainstream political parties in the country intensified their acrimonious campaign against each other, with some expressing reservations over the impartiality of the polls.
According to the electoral rolls published by the ECP, 105.96 million voters will be able to cast their vote in the upcoming elections. According to the data released by the Election Commission of Pakistan, 3,459 candidates are running for 272 general seats of the National Assembly, while 8,396 candidates are contesting for 577 general seats of the four provincial assemblies.
The run up to the July 25 elections have seen allegations that the military has secretly backed the campaign of former cricketer Imran Khan while targeting his political opponents. Khan of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf has repeatedly denied claims he is linked to, or supported by the military.
Tensions have risen in the country since the jailing of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif on corruption charges last week.
Sharif, who was sentenced in absentia on July 6, was jailed for 10 years on corruption-related charges which led to his removal from office last year.
The former premier claims the military is aiding a "judicial witch-hunt" to prevent the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) from winning a second term in power.
PML-N chief Shahbaz Sharif today alleged that caretaker government in Punjab province was supportive of Khan's party.
"Punjab's interim government is dancing to the tunes of PTI, while the Election Commission of Pakistan continues to be a quiet bystander," Shahbaz said during a news conference in Peshawar.
He also accused the anti-corruption watchdog, National Accountability Bureau, for targeting his party.
Caretaker Chief Minister of Punjab, Hassan Askari, in an interview, however, rejected allegation by PML-N and said that the "government would provide full support to ECP for holding free, fair and transparent election in the country."
Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari today said that Sharif's PML-N and Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf have forged electoral alliances with proscribed organisations.
"We have to set redline against extremism in the politics," he said. "We have to think what message we are giving to the world." He said that the forthcoming polls should be transparent.
"The election should not be made controversial by facilitating a few political parties and allies," Bilawal said.
Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, chief of the Mutahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) alleged that his party was not being allowed to hold big rallies in Karachi, which traditionally was it stronghold.