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Supporters of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN) hold images of their party leader Nawaz Sharif as they chant slogans and beat drums to celebrate the Supreme Court's decision against Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani during a rally in Karachi June 20, 2012. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)
Supporters of Pakistan Muslim League-N (PMLN) hold images of their party leader Nawaz Sharif as they chant slogans and beat drums to celebrate the Supreme Court's decision against Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani during a rally in Karachi June 20, 2012. (Akhtar Soomro/Reuters)

PRIMER

Four things to watch ahead of Pakistan's election Add to ...

Imagine three ongoing conflicts within a country’s borders: a Taliban-led insurgency in the tribal areas; a separatist movement in the copper and gold-rich province bordering Iran and Afghanistan; and the largest city hostage to targeted killings on a daily basis.

Those are just the security challenges nuclear-armed Pakistan faces. The world’s sixth most populous country is also on the verge of running out of money and will need to talk to the International Monetary Fund very soon.

Instead of rejoicing in their country’s unlikely democratic milestone – a civilian government just finished a full five-year term, a first in a country whose 66-year history has been marred by military rule – Pakistanis are in a sour mood as they ready to vote in national and provincial elections on May 11.

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