A look at several key players in Pakistan’s upcoming national election that is expected in May:
—PRESIDENT ASIF ALI ZARDARI: The president rode to power on a wave of sympathy following the 2007 assassination of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, but his tenure has been turbulent and he has long been plagued by allegations of corruption. Zardari will not be participating in the upcoming election, but as co-head of the Pakistan People’s Party, which led the last government, he will be a key figure. His unpopularity and anger over the performance of the government during its five-year term could damage the party’s run in the upcoming election. The economy is stuttering, energy shortages plague the country and Taliban militants continue to stage deadly attacks.
—BILAWAL BHUTTO ZARDARI: The only son of the president and his late wife, he is set to carry the torch for the Bhutto family political dynasty in Pakistan. His grandfather, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, founded the PPP and served as the country’s president and prime minister. He is too young to participate in the upcoming election — the minimum age is 25 — but will likely play a key role as co-head of the PPP with his father. It remains to be seen how well the Oxford-educated youth can rally the party’s largely poor, rural constituency in southern Sindh province since he has lived most of his life outside the country and is still working on his command of Urdu, the national language.
—NAWAZ SHARIF: The head of the main opposition party, the Pakistan Muslim League-N, hopes to become prime minister for the third time. His party, which appeals to an industrialist base and is strongest in central Punjab province, is the PPP’s main rival to form the next government. Sharif was ousted as prime minister in a bloodless coup in 1999 by Gen. Pervez Musharraf and was sent into exile the following year. He and Bhutto returned to Pakistan in 2007 to lead their parties in the 2008 elections. Bhutto was killed before the elections were held.
—IMRAN KHAN: Khan is a Pakistani cricket legend-turned-politician who could have a significant impact on the upcoming election. He founded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or the Movement for Justice Party, more than 15 years ago, but failed to gain much traction until 2011. That year he marked his rise as a major political player with a rally that drew more than 100,000 people in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province. Khan has appealed to a largely young, urban constituency tired with the current crop of politicians and the corruption that plagues the system. Analysts doubt his party can win enough seats to form the next government, but it could steal key votes away from the PML-N and the PPP, especially in Punjab, and that could affect who wins.
More Related Stories
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Rescue crews race to find tornado survivors
- Looting in Oklahoma?
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
- Frantic parents search for children in tornado's wake
- Crews dig through rubble after deadly tornado
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
- Record tornado devastates Oklahoma
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11