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PakistanI Military Deploys Across Country Ahead Of Elections


Pakistani army soldiers arrive at the premises of distribution point where electoral workers gather to collect election materials, ahead of general election in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on July 24.

Pakistan's military has deployed hundreds of thousands of troops to oversee polling stations across the country ahead of the July 25 national elections.

The military deployment comes after a bitter campaign that has seen accusations of pre-poll rigging, the expansion of hard-line religious parties, and a number of militant attacks that have killed more than 180 people, including three candidates.

More than 370,000 soldiers were deployed nationwide to ensure the election goes smoothly in the largest such deployment in Pakistan's history during an election.

The military has said its troops will work with local law enforcement to ensure "a safe and secure environment" for voting.

Election officials said that some 450,000 police officers have also been assigned to provide security.

The large military deployment and a recent move by election officials to grant troops broad powers inside polling centers has sparked concerns of possible manipulation.

Political parties held their final rallies on July 23 in the evening -- before campaigning was suspended -- in a last-ditch attempt to attract voters.

The front-runners in the election appear to be jailed former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's incumbent Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, and cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters

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