In the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s election in Pakistan at least 179 people have been killed in attacks across the country.

This includes the recent attack in Mastung, which was the second deadliest terror attack in the country’s history where 149 people lost their lives.

This abhorrent attack was also the worst of this scale by Daesh (aka ISIS) in Pakistan, suggesting the desperation of its dwindling supporters following the group’s collapse in Syria and Iraq.

The attack was a cruel reminder that Muslims are the principal victims of terrorism, while also being on the frontline of fighting it. 

Pakistanis already know from bitter experience that they face a long and collective struggle to completely defeat those in their country pursing a selfish and violent agenda, often dressed as a distorted version of Islam.

Many people in the UK may not have heard about these numerous attacks, nor their appalling death toll. Even fewer probably know that there is a major general election tomorrow which has the power to change the course of history for the country.

This is despite the fact that one of the frontrunners is the 1992 Cricket World Cup winning Captain Imran Khan. Other high-profile frontrunners include Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Benazir Bhutto who seeks to re-establish the legacy of his family, and the brother of deposed leader Nawaz Sharif, Shabaz Sharif.  

Such elections can be imperfect, yet still they are a truly vital opportunity for people to have a say in their future. 

As Pakistanis in their millions cast their votes, they defy the intentions of extremist groups like Daesh who seek to stamp out democracy and crush future hopes for the nation. I, along with many other British Pakistanis, will be watching this election, hopeful for our relatives’ freedom to vote and live peacefully.

A large portion of the population will be voting for the first time on Wednesday in this landmark election, with people from Pakistan’s autonomous tribal regions having been granted voting rights alongside a generation of young Pakistanis voting for the first time.

Pakistanis await a new dawn, hoping for a future that reflects their aspirations for freedom, dignity, prosperity and peace.

Tomorrow, millions of Pakistanis will go to the polls in the hope of a brighter tomorrow. Whatever the outcome, that’s the biggest rejection of extremism and violence there can be.

Shaukat Warraich is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Imams Online and the Founder and CEO of Faith Associates.