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What does the election in Pakistan mean?



ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Pakistan will go to the polls on Wednesday to elect a prime minister, who in the country's 70-year history only transfers power from one civilian government to another for the second time.

The election comes at a critical moment for a country of 200 million people and a war-stricken region. Pakistan is an atomic state, a negative but important American ally and one of the largest Muslim majority countries in the world.

This year's election could have been an opportunity for Pakistanis to celebrate their democracy. Instead, the campaign has been tarnished by the suppression of news media, allegations of military manipulation, an increase in Islamist extremist candidates, and a series of attacks on candidates and election campaigns, including one that killed 1

51 people.

Here's What You Need to Know

What's going on?

Pakistan's policy has always been chaotic: the country routinely switches between elected governments and military dictatorships, and a prime minister has never completed his entire five years term. However, this year's campaign was particularly tense with the military's efforts to marginalize the former ruling party.

Despite this manipulation, Wednesday's election will serve as a kind of referendum over some of the country's key issues. Should Pakistan focus its economy on the West or on China? Is its democracy robust enough to accommodate extremist candidates supporting militancy, or should they be limited? Can the military and the courts be entrusted with objective and objective institutions?

Between Afghanistan, where an American-led war has continued for 17 years, and Pakistan, India's historic rival, there is always the danger of a conflagration. It served as a crucial base for the American forces fighting in Afghanistan, as well as a strong barrier to the same forces, and secretly provided aid and safe haven to militant groups, including the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

An Economic Crisis

But Pakistan's problems not only affect regional security – they also affect the ability to give their own people, including a growing class of young and educated Pakistanis, a chance. Despite its size and potential, the country's economy has lagged behind and faces continuing problems of corruption and environmental stress.

Tensions with the United States and other Western countries have increased – mainly because of allegations that Pakistan does not contribute enough to curbing the Afghan Taliban and other militant groups – Pakistan has increasingly turned to China for help and support. But this linchpin has its own problems, including concern about the fast-growing debt burden that Pakistan is having on China.


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