Millions of people will vote on Wednesday in Pakistan’s general election. With multiple governments warning that the terror threat remains high, voters will select representatives for national and provincial assemblies.

The election is believed to come down to two parties – the Pakistan Justice Movement led by Imran Khan, and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. The BBC provides a background briefing on major candidates and what is at stake here.

There have already been many allegations of corruption, and a suggestion that the military is influencing the results, which have lead to protests.

Military role

Reuters reports that ‘the Election Commission gave soldiers the authority of a “magistrate”, to hold on-the-spot trials of anyone breaking election laws and sentence them.’ Pakistan has experienced multiple coups since independence and the role of the military remains a concern for civil society advocates. This is only the second time in Pakistan’s history that a civilian government will replace a civilian government.

Terror threat

On Friday 13th July, a suicide bomber in Balochistan targeted a rally in Dringarh, Mastung, killing at least 149 people and injuring over 175. On the same day, a bomb exploded at a rally near Huwaid in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, killing four and injuring 19.

A candidate for Khan’s Pakistan Justice Movement, Ikramullah Gandapur, was killed by a suicide bomber on Sunday 22nd July. The attack also killed his driver and injured three others. Haroon Bilour, a candidate who opposed the Taliban, was among 12 people killed in a suicide attack on July 10th – Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan has since claimed responsibility.


There are links to government travel advice below that contains further information.

  • You should avoid demonstrations, large crowds of people and public events.
  • Review your travel risk management plan, so you know what to do in an emergency.
  • Make sure you have the contact information of your travel insurance company and your local embassy stored in a secure offline location.
  • Monitor local media.
  • If possible, set aside some supplies of food and bottled water.
  • Keep your devices charged.
  • Be aware Westerners may be targeted in terror attacks or for kidnap for ransom – avoid spending time in areas that are popular with Westerners
Government travel advice

Links to travel advice on visiting Thailand from the following governments –

  • USA – reconsider need to travel
  • UK
  • Australia – reconsider need to travel

From the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office

National and provincial elections are due to take place on 25 July 2018, with campaigning and rallies in the run-up. In recent weeks, rallies have been the target of terrorist attacks. On 13 July, bombings occurred at campaign events in Mastung (Baluchistan), killing over 150 people, and in Bannu (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa). On 10 July, 13 people were killed in an event in Peshawar. You should avoid demonstrations, large crowds of people and public events.

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Pakistan. There’s a high threat of terrorism, kidnap and sectarian violence throughout the country, including the cities of Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi. You should be vigilant, avoid all crowds, public events, political gatherings, religious processions and sporting events, and take appropriate security precautions.

Foreigners, in particular westerners, may be directly targeted. Densely populated unsecured areas, such as markets, shopping malls, restaurants and places where westerners and the Pakistani elite are known to congregate, are potential focal points for attacks. You should be extra vigilant at all times and minimize your exposure to areas that pose a higher risk.

Security forces in Pakistan remain on high alert following previous attacks. Alert levels in major cities can fluctuate, and travellers should monitor local media. There may be increases in security force presence and restrictions on movement may be put in place at short notice. See Terrorism

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Headlines and news coverage


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