>> A blast in the Pakistani city of Kadar has killed at least two dozen people near a polling station. It came shortly after the country began voting in a cliffhanger election on Wednesday, the explosion was claimed by Islamic State. They say it was carried out by a suicide bomber.
The election is the most controversial in Pakistan in years. At the forefront, critic hero Emron Khan and the party of jailed ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Although Khan was a slight favorite in national polls, neither of them are clear winners yet,. And whoever wins will be handed a mountain of problems facing the country from the economic crisis and a deepening water shortage, to mounting pressure from Washington over Afghanistan.
But the election itself has been largely overshadowed by startling allegations against the country's military. It's being accused of trying to tilt the race in Khan's favor. Reuters Drazen Jorgic is in Islamabad.>> The current election has brought to the fore, once again, the historic fault line in Pakistani politics, and that is the civil military discord and the relationship between those two sides.
This is something that has bedeviled Pakistani politics since inception in 1947 and analysts say that this is perhaps the worst it's been certainly in a decade in terms of military interference.>> But that's not the only alarming aspect of this election.>> A huge jump in the number of candidates from religious groups or more importantly essentially Islamist military groups who've gone out and rebranded themselves under a different name and now are contesting elections.
This huge jump in the number of these candidates has had a profound impact in the race already in that some of the main candidates such as Imran Khan seems to have taken more conservative right wing religious rhetoric or some very sensitive issues during the campaign.>> The race will likely come down to Punjab, the country's most populist providence where Sharif's party has been clinging to its lead.