Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

Pakistan to hold general elections May 11

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari is seen in a November 2010 file photo.

S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images/S. Kodikara/AFP/Getty Images

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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.

Story continues below advertisement

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

Report an error

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

Please note that our commenting partner Civil Comments is closing down. As such we will be implementing a new commenting partner in the coming weeks. As of December 20th, 2017 we will be shutting down commenting on all article pages across our site while we do the maintenance and updates. We understand that commenting is important to our audience and hope to have a technical solution in place January 2018.

Discussion loading… ✨