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HindustanTimes Tue,16 Sep 2014

World

Pakistan to hold historic elections on May 11
AFP
Islamabad, March 20, 2013
First Published: 15:53 IST(20/3/2013)
Last Updated: 23:19 IST(20/3/2013)

Pakistan will go to the polls on May 11, the presidency announced Wednesday, in a historic general election marking the first democratic transition of power in the country’s 66-year existence.

President Asif Ali Zardari, who confounded critics by keeping his fractious coalition together for a full five-year term, announced the date days after the 342-member national assembly dissolved at the end of its term.

“The president announced on Wednesday that elections to the national assembly will be held on May 11,” his spokesman Farhatullah Babar told AFP.

The vote will mark the first time that an elected civilian government hands over to another in a country that has seen three military coups and four military rulers since partition from India and the end of British rule in 1947.

But Taliban attacks and record levels of violence directed against the Shiite Muslim minority have raised fears about security for the polls in the nuclear-armed country of 180 million, a key but troubled US ally.

A parliamentary committee has until Friday to select a candidate to head a caretaker administration until the polls. The election commission should then announce a full schedule for the campaign.

Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N led by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif are likely to dominate the race, while former cricket star Imran Khan will compete in an election for the first time.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of Zardari and of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, is co-chairman of the PPP but cannot stand because he will not reach the minimum age of 25 until September.

 

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