At least five Pakistani police personnel were killed, and two others injured in a terror attack in Dera Ismail Khan district while polling was underway.
"5 policemen have been killed and 2 injured when militants attacked a police mobile van first with an improvised explosive device and then fired at the policemen for over 30 minutes in Kulachi, Dera Ismail Khan District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa," a senior police official said.
Meanwhile, a video shared on Twitter showed unauthorised and mysterious males inside a women's polling station.
Earlier today, mobile phone services were temporarily suspended to strengthen security as voting began amid economic crisis, rising militant attacks, and strained relations with neighbouring countries.
The government's decision also came a day after jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan urged his supporters to wait outside polling booths after voting until results are announced.
Pakistan's parliamentary democracy involves voting for seats in the National Assembly and provincial legislatures. 128 million Pakistanis out of a population of 241 million are eligible to vote - all those above 18. Polling booths will open from 8 am to 5 pm, but time can be extended in exceptional individual circumstances.
Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) will likely emerge as the single largest party and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) of Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as a distant second, followed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and other parties, according to a media report on Wednesday.
An official assessment shows that the PML-N is likely to win between 115 and 132 National Assembly seats. Adding together, the reserved seats of women and minorities would mean the party stands a chance to form its government single-handedly with a simple majority if the official assessment turns out right.
As for the provincial assembly seats, the assessment puts them around 190 out of 297, meaning thereby an absolute majority in the Punjab Assembly.
According to an official, the party may sweep Punjab except in a few districts and likely form the government by a two-thirds majority in the biggest province. It would also become a lead player in making coalition governments in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, whereas the Pakistan Peoples Party is likely to have its government in Sindh alone.
In the Centre, the PPP is expected to bag 35 to 40 seats, according to the assessment report, whereas the PTI’s independent candidates may fetch 23 to 29 seats.
Although the surveys conducted so far have laid out an optimistic projection of the PML-N with regard to its approval rate, which has registered a rise since the return of Nawaz Sharif, none has offered an assessment in terms of seats the party would likely win.