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Pakistan prepares for first democratic transition after wild and bloody campaign
May 23, 2013, 8:44 pm



With campaigning officially ended on Friday ahead of Pakistan's parliamentary elections, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party is expected to take the most votes, but a late surge by the part of former cricket star-turned-populist politician Imran Khan could complicate his ability to form a government. A party would have to win 137 out of the National Assembly's 272 seats to govern with a simple majority but that appears unlikely, potentially setting the stage for days or weeks of coalition building.

The final week of campaigning has been a wild conclusion to the landmark election, which would be Pakistan's first transition between two civilian governments. Five people were killed on Friday in bomb attacks on party offices in Quetta and Peshawar. Khan is currently recovering in the hospital after falling from a mechanical lift at a rally earlier this week. Nonetheless, 35,000 supporters turned up at a campaign rally in Islamabad that he didn't attend. On Thursday, Ali Haider Gilani, the son of former Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and a candidate for local office for the ruling Pakistan People's Party was kidnapped near the city of Multan in Punjab.

The motive behind the kidnapping is unclear, but Taliban militants are widely suspected. The Taliban has threatened to disrupt Saturday's election with suicide bombings. At least 110 people have been killed in election-related violence and Taliban attacks and threats have hampered the ability of several parties to campaign.


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