Pakistanis Await Poll Returns

Voter turnout light, international observers expect rigging
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 18, 2008 5:09 AM CST
Pakistani women clad in traditional burqa, or veil, cast their votes in Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday, Feb. 18, 2008. Pakistanis voted Monday for a new parliament in elections shadowed by fears of violence...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Polls have closed in Pakistani elections long-delayed by the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, as fears of violence kept voter turnout down to an estimated 15%, Reuters reports. Heavy security, with more than 470,000 police and soldiers deployed at polls nationwide, did little to assuage citizens' anxiety as voting proceeded quietly, the Guardian reports.

Polls suggest a sweeping victory for opposition parties if the election is even moderately fair. Leaders of both opposition parties yesterday charged that the government had already rolled out preparations to rig balloting. Nearly 81 million people are registered to vote. Several hundred foreigners, including a team of US senators, and thousands of Pakistanis are monitoring the vote but are not allowed to do exit polls.