By Islamuddin Sajid
Over 9 million Pakistanis are expected to head to the polls early Sunday to elect 35 representatives in national and provincial assemblies.
Footage aired on local TV channels showed voters in select constituencies lining up outside polling stations at 8 a.m. local time (0300GMT). Voting will continue till 5 p.m. For the first time in the country's history, Pakistanis overseas are also exercising their right to vote.
According to the election authorities, voters will elect 11 lawmakers to the National Assembly and 24 in four provincial assemblies.
Most of these seats were vacated by those who won more than one seat, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, who won five seats in the National Assembly in the July 25 elections. He retained one and vacated the four others.
Over 370 candidates, including former Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and former Railway Minister Saad
The ruling party's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) faces stiff opposition in the Punjab, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.
Political analysts believe the National Assembly by-elections and those concerning 11 seats in the Punjab provincial assembly are crucial as the ruling party enjoys thin majorities in both legislatures.