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Pakistan votes: who are the leaders?

As the campaign draws to a close, charismatic populist and former cricket star Imran Khan and brother of the deposed leader, Shahbaz Sharif, have emerged as the two frontrunners.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the 29-year-old son of former leader Benazir Bhutto, also finds broad support and tries to restore his family's party as a viable political force.

Polls indicate that the race is too close to call and could lead to coalition negotiations that leave Bhutto Zardari's smaller power-balanced party.

So, who are the men competing with Pakistan's next prime minister?

Imran Khan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Justice Party

Politicians around the world would kill for the notoriety of Imran Khan.

Probably one of the best cricket all-rounders in the history of the game ̵

1; experienced in both hitting and bowling – he dominated the fold in the 1980s, culminating in helping a battling Pakistani national team win the World Cup title in 1992. [19659002] In a sports-obsessed nation, the 65-year-old has skillfully developed his legendary status for transition to a career in politics.

He is the leader of the center-right Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), also known as the Justice Party, and has adopted a tough, religious person to appeal to a broad base of voters, according to Mosharaf Zaidi , a newspaper columnist and political analyst.

While PTI has seen some provincial achievements, analysts said Khan remains a policy lightweight. Journalist and author Zahid Hussain said the former cricketer had "never had a serious political philosophy."

Khan was a figure – though no power – in Pakistani politics since the late 1990s, but Zaidi said his populism has "never been as effective or successful as it is today," thanks to the support of Pakistan's "angry (and) disillusioned "middle classes.

"He is one of the reasons for the press's restrictions, he fires publicly and attacks newspapers and journalists, he does not stand for freedom, unless the press freedom praises Imran Khan," Zaidi added.

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Khan is considered the preferred candidate of the country's powerful military, which since 1947 has ruled almost half of its independent existence directly in the country during that time maintain an overly large influence on politics.

The country is divided into two camps, said the journalist and former Pakistani ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, those who believe that the military has the right to run the country and those who do not. Many of the first have teamed up with Khan, he said.

"The groups that benefited from military rule do not like the political class that shares that power," Haqqani said, adding that some of the military and their descendants felt marginalized. "Their dissatisfaction is with democracy." (Khan is a pro-establishment populist, not an anti-establishment populist.)

Khan has also benefited from the military's reluctance against his former political rival, Nawaz Sharif, recently Attachment sentenced to ten years in prison.

The PTI has been able to use Sharif's fall and Khan has been heavily involved in anti-corruption issues.

This topic is "the most effective tool in his political arsenal "It's beyond a rhetorical instrument."

However, while Khan is considered clean, some of his associates and political allies are "accused of the same fraud and corruption he blames on his rivals," Zaidi added

Haqqani, the former ambassador, said Khans protocol so far, is not necessarily a proof of the incorrrability: "He was never in government, so from where Shabahz Sharif, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)

Khan's biggest rival in next week's election is Shahbaz Sharif, long crown prince of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML) ) and once the natural successor of the leadership.

Despite the condemnation and imprisonment of his brother Nawaz Sharif, the family still receives considerable support.

In fact, this case may have improved Shahbaz's political reputation.

Nawaz had previously favored his daughter Maryam Sharif. However, she was also involved in the corruption scandal and is now in prison next to her father, reopening the way for Shahbaz.

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Haqqani said the electorate is divided: "Some think the whole family is wrong;" It's awkward, but deserves a decent process; then there are some who say, "We do not care – they are our people."

But he added that Shahbaz "is very much of the political machine that he and his brother built together."

Chief Minister of Punjab, Pakistan's most populous province and an important electoral campaign, Shahbaz's references and achievements as an administrator could do him good, according to Zaidi, the journalist.

"The entire infrastructure and development of Punjab is superior to other provinces and this is due to its government," he said.

Indeed, Shahbaz may have the opposite problem with Khan, Haqqani said more of a steward than a politician, and lacks the charisma and flair of his rival or brother.

Nawaz and Maryam's dramatic return from London to Pakistan, where they took care of Nawaz's' terminally ill wife, Kulsoom Nawaz, to convince themselves, 'will fuel a degree of empathy among the electorate,' predicted Zaidi ,

has certainly shown that (the Sharif family) does not go away without a fight, "he said.

While Shahbaz remained separate from the corruption scandal that befell his brother and niece, there is still a trace of association Zaidi said,

"He does not seem to be in exactly the same box as Nawaz … but he certainly is not immune to corruption allegations," he said.

"If he acted as a national leader, he would be tracked by these allegations. The people who wanted to vote on the basis of corruption will not vote for a Sharif anyway. "

All of this has led to an erosion of support, even in Punjab, a former PML-N heartland into which" Zaidi said.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistani People's Party (PPP)

The son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto – the first woman to have a Muslim nation murdered in 2007 – and the Former President Asif Ali Zardari – the only elected Pakistani president ever to complete a full term – the 29-year-old Bilawal is unlikely to cause a surprise in the two-horse race between the PML-N and PTI.

He comes out PPP shares, which are reasonably pragmatic, multilateral and internationalist, said Zaidi, and the Bhutto name still has a lot of money, especially at the heart of the family in the south in the province of Sindh.

The success of this month's election could lead him to revive the fate of the PPP that has suffered during his father's term, though the senior Zardari remains co-leader of the party.

Haqqani, who is close to the Bhutto Zardari family, said Bilawal "is running for election after this election".

"He said nothing negative about anyone, (while) the most lauded manifesto, the most elaborate document on what Pakistan needs politically," he said. "He has reached his mother's support base and is bringing her back – the PPP had lost support after taking his father in. He's still young, he's in no hurry and he's showing that." [196592002] Hussain, the journalist told Bilawal out of his parents' shadow, "presents himself as a mature and sober (figure-to-be) potential to revive the party."

While it is unlikely that the PPP could win an absolute majority, a strong party outlook could leave Bilawal as kingmaker for future coalition negotiations.

In the case of an unexplained parliament, his father is likely to press for a partnership with one of the opposition parties, although Bilawal may be less keen to become a junior partner.

The younger politician "probably will not want to be with one of the two big parties at the moment if he wants to make a claim to principles," Haqqani said. "But his father is still a political creature … (Zardari) would not mind forming a coalition with either party based on what his party can achieve in a pragmatic sense."

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