Major politicians across parties showed up as early as 8 am to cast their votes on Wednesday. One of the earliest votes cast was of the President of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) Shehbaz Sharif who said while speaking to the media, “Today will be the day, PML-N will emerge victorious [Insha’Allah]. The Pakistani majority wants to vote for PML-N,” furthermore, he vowed to keep Pakistan on track towards prosperity and success, “We will continue work to end unemployment, improve education and health services, and build the Diamer-Bhasha Dam.” Other PML-N leaders like Miftah Ismail cast his vote at a polling station in Karachi’s NA-244, while former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi voted in the NA-56 constituency, and former Defence Minister Khurram Dastgir was seen casting his vote in NA-81 Gujranwala.On the other end of the spectrum was Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf (PTI) who vowed to break the “status quo”. Party chairman Imran Khan cast his vote in NA-53 Islamabad, making him one of the only major party leaders who did not cast a provincial vote. Imran Khan stated that “Today is the most important day in Pakistan’s history. This is your chance to end status quo, to defeat those parties who have ruled and looted for years, voting is your responsibility towards your country, so come out and vote.” Prominent PTI members such as Asad Umar cast his vote in NA-54, while Shah Mahmood Qureshi voted in his hometown Multan, and TV personality Aamir Liaquat cast his ballot in NA-219, Karachi. In Sindh, Pakistan People’s Party Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari cast his vote in Larkana, NA-200, while Bakhtawar and Asifa Bhutto Zardari both voted in NA-213, Nawabshah. After casting his vote Bilawal spoke to the media condemning the blast in Quetta outside a polling station, and the other at a PPP polling camp in Larkana. He added “that these acts of terrorism were an attack on Pakistan and its democracy, and the only way for the nation to defeat terrorism was through administrating the power of their vote.”PPP leader Faryal Talpur also cast her vote in Larkana, while Former Senate Opposition leader Sherry Rehman voted in NA-247 alongside Former President Mamnoon Hussain and his wife. Independent candidate Jibran Nasir also cast his vote in NA-247, Karachi at the same polling station as his contender Arif Alvi.Banned outfit Jamaatud Dawa contested elections for the first time on the platform of the Allaho Akbar Tehrik (AAT), with their chief Hafiz Saeed casting his vote at a polling station in Lahore. Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI), cast his vote in NA-238, Dera Ismail Khan. While addressing the public he stated that “your vote is a responsibility, it is important to exercise your right to vote, while voting with sincere intentions.”In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Ameer Haider Hoti former K-P Chief Minister cast his vote in Mardan. Awami National Party’s Chairperson Asfandyar Wali Khan casted his ballot in Charsadda.Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his wife cast their vote in Rawalpindi. General Bajwa also issued a message saying that Pakistan is the “target of inimical forces” and that as a nation “we have come a long way in our national effort to fail them” he further urged the country to “come out and vote undeterred”.Interim Prime Minister Nasirul Mulk travelled to Swat to cast his vote for NA-3 (Swat III), while President Mamnoon Hussain voted in Karachi’s NA-247 constituency.Published in Daily Times, July 26th 2018.