Pakistan to hold general elections May 11

ISLAMABAD Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:43pm IST

Supporters of the political and religious party Jamat-e-Islami hold the party flag as they take part in a rally to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day in Karachi February 5, 2013. REUTERS/Athar Hussain

Supporters of the political and religious party Jamat-e-Islami hold the party flag as they take part in a rally to mark Kashmir Solidarity Day in Karachi February 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Athar Hussain

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, daughter of Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, adjusts her flower garlands as she campaigns for her mother during an election meeting at Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Pawan Kumar

Election 2014

More than 814 million people — a number larger than the population of Europe — are eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democratic exercise.  Full Coverage 

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan will hold historic general elections on May 11, a presidential spokesman said on Wednesday, after the government completed its first full term in the country's troubled history.

A caretaker administration will now manage the run-up to elections as the country struggles with Taliban violence, record sectarian unrest, chronic power cuts and a fragile economy.

The United States, a major aid donor despite tense relations with Pakistan in recent years, will be closely watching the elections in a country where the military shapes foreign policy with the help of the powerful intelligence agencies.

Nuclear-armed Pakistan is a key in ally in the U.S. fight against Islamist militancy and its cooperation is seen as vital in efforts to bring stability to neighbouring Afghanistan.

Pakistani Taliban militants are waging a violent campaign to topple the government and impose their austere brand of Islam. They recently withdrew a conditional ceasefire offer and threatened to attack the ruling party's election rallies.

Washington is hoping the elections will usher in stability so that Islamabad can help pacify Afghanistan as U.S.-led NATO troops prepare to leave by the end of 2014.

Pakistan's military has ruled the country for more than half of its 66-year history and its ties with civilian leaders are often strained.

Army chief General Ashfaq Kayani has vowed to keep the military out of politics and there are no signs the generals are backing any particular party for the polls.

Pakistanis have become frustrated with the ruling Pakistan People's Party (PPP) of President Asif Ali Zardari for its mismanagement of the fragile economy and inability to ease Islamist militancy and tackle poverty.

It could face strong competition from opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, who was toppled by a military coup in 1999, as well as cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan.

Former military leader General Pervez Musharraf is expected to return from self-exile in Dubai on March 24 to take part in the election.

(Reporting by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared


Paucity of Rains

Patchy Rain

Met office rules out surplus monsoon in 2014   Full Article 

Boat Tragedy

Boat Tragedy

Boy and girl on Korean ferry tied life jackets together before they drowned.  Full Article 

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine Crisis

Ukraine forces kill up to five rebels, Russia starts drill near border.  Full Article 

Big Buyback

Big Buyback

Apple expands buybacks by $30 billion.  Full Article 

Put A Ring On It

Put A Ring On It

Actress Jodie Foster marries girlfriend Alexandra Hedison.  Full Article 

Times Top List

Time 100

Janet Yellen, Miley Cyrus odd bedfellows in Time's list of 100 most influential.  Full Article 

Champions League

Champions League

Benzema strike gives Real Madrid edge over holders Bayern Munich.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage