ISLAMABAD – Pakistanis will go to the polls on Wednesday to elect a third direct civilian government, with more than 11,000 candidates vying for 270 seats in parliament and 570 seats in four provincial assemblies.
Separated under Pakistani law Seats are reserved for women and non-Muslim minorities, who make up about 4 percent of the country's more than 200 million people.
The election comes in a controversy surrounding former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has recently returned from London to London for allegations of corruption, even as he tried to return his party, the Pakistan Muslim League, to power. Meanwhile, popular former cricketer Imran Khan hopes to become the next Premier.
The election for two seats in parliament and six seats in provincial assemblies has been postponed due to attacks on candidates or disqualifications. A provincial seat in the province of Sindh was won unanimously.
Here is a look at disputed seats in the National Assembly and four provincial assemblies and the number of candidates:
The National Assembly in the capital Islamabad consists of 342 seats, of which 270 open seats are contested.
The remaining 70 seats are reserved for women and non-Muslims, 60 for women and 1
Punjab is the largest province and the key to forming a new government with 139 meeting seats targeted by 1,584 candidates. For the 35 seats reserved for women from Punjab, 73 candidates are listed.
The party that receives the majority of seats in Punjab is likely to form the next government. The three major parties – Khan's Tehrik-e-Insaf, the former ruling Pakistan Muslim League and Bilawal Zardari's Pakistani People's Party – are focusing on Punjab. Khan, Zardari and PML-N boss Shahbaz Sharif are campaigning for several seats, which is allowed under Pakistani law.
In the southern province of Sindh there are 61 seats of the National Assembly, which are contested by 824 candidates and 48 candidates for the 14 seats for women
For the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in the 39 seats of the National Assembly, compete 721 candidates. There are eight reserved seats for women, with 35 candidates competing for them
In the south-western province of Baluchistan, there are 16 seats with 287 candidates and three women's seats with 16 candidates.
The capital, Islamabad, has three meeting seats and this year there are 73 candidates in the race.
There are 12 meeting seats in the tribal belt along the Afghan border and 289 contestants compete for these seats.
Punjab Assembly: It has 371 seats, of which 295 are contested by 3975 candidates. The candidates for the 66 seats for women are 174 candidates and for the eight seats for non-Muslims 32 candidates are drawn up.
Shindh Assembly: For the 168-seat corporation, 129 seats are contested by 2,149 candidates. An undisputed seat has already been decided. 91 candidates are listed for 29 women's seats and 39 candidates for nine reserved seats for non-Muslim minorities.
-Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly: In the 124-seat assembly 98 seats of 1,132 candidates are challenged. The election of a seat was postponed due to the death of a candidate in a suicide attack in the provincial capital Peshawar. There are 79 candidates for 22 women, and 20 candidates are in the starting blocks for three minority seats.
– Baluchistan Assembly: There are 933 candidates for 51 seats. The contest for a seat was postponed due to the death of a candidate and 148 supporters in the Mastung district in a suicide bombing. The assailant blew himself up when Provincial candidate Siraj Raisani held a rally in the Drin-Garh area of Mastung.
There are 42 candidates for the 11 seats reserved for women. For three reserved seats for non-Muslims, there are 22 candidates.