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General elections underway in Pakistan
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Pakistani people are casting their votes in the general elections on Monday.


The polling started at 8 a.m. local time (0300 GMT) and will continue till 5 p.m. (1200 GMT).


All the security arrangements are in place at the polling stations. However, only a few voters were seen at some polling stations in Islamabad.


Mohammad Babar Afridi, the principal of Progressive Model School in Rawalpindi, which serves as a polling station, told Xinhua that people were concerned about their own security and they needed encouragement to come to polling stations.


At a polling station for National Assembly 49 at Islamabad Model College for Girls, five policemen are on duty and five polling personnel are supervising the voting.


The polling staff told Xinhua that the police would have a security check on voters before they enter the polling station. The voters are required to show their identity cards to the polling staff who will censor their eligibility. After that, eligible voters will be given a green ballot paper on which the names and election symbols of contesting parties are printed. The voters will also be given a stamp with which they can choose their favorite parties.


There are two transparent ballot boxes and men and women will cast their votes separately.


Polling stations have been set up across the country. According to a report of the state-run TV channel PTV, over 37,000 polling stations have been set up for the 297 seats of Punjab assembly, 13, 000 polling stations for 130 seats of Sindh assembly, 8,000 polling stations for 99 seats of North West Frontier Province ( NWFP) assembly and 3,000 polling stations for 51 seats of Balochistan Assembly.


The total number of registered voters is over 89 million and 47 political parties are taking part in the elections, said the report.


There are 272 seats of national assembly, among which 148 are from Punjab, 61 from Sindh, 35 from NWFP, 14 from Balochistan, 12 from Federally Administered Tribal Areas and two from the federal capital Islamabad.


The PTV report said over 571,000 polling staff would supervise the conduct of the polling. After completing the counting of the votes at polling stations, the returning officers will announce the results.


(Xinhua News Agency February 18, 2008)

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