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Pakistan finally has an election date. The tenure of the National Assembly ended on March 16, and the country still doesn't have a caretaker government. Daily Times reported on March 21: "President Asif Ali Zardari... announced that general elections for the National Assembly will be held on May 11, in the first democratic transition of power in the country's history. The announcement comes at a time when the government and the opposition are deadlocked on the issue of the appointment of caretaker PM." The provincial assemblies were also dissolved the same day, via the same address to the nation by Zardari. This means the four provincial assemblies will also be elected on May 11. Interim chief ministers have been appointed for Sindh, Khyber-Pukhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
The incumbent Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) earned generous praise for succeeding in giving Pakistan its first democratically elected government to last a full term. Najam Sethi wrote in The Friday Times' March 22 edition: "The first elected parliament and government in Pakistan's 66-year history have completed their mandated five-year term and gone home. This is a great achievement. Generally speaking, it means that our political elites have finally recognised the value of setting and playing by the core rules of the game of electoral democracy. A clutch of constitutional amendments — empowering the PM at the expense of the president, empowering the Election Commission of Pakistan and the judiciary at the expense of the executive, and empowering the provinces at the expense of the Centre — with the help of the opposition is testimony to this. More specifically, it means that the civilians have realised that conspiring with the military to undermine one another for short term political gains eventually hurts all civilian projects and thwarts stable nation-building."
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