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Pak faces prospects of hung Parliament

Pak faces prospects of hung Parliament
Highlights

- No party looks strong enough to sweep elections - Nawaz's PML (N) appears to be the front-runner - PPP's campaign hampered by Zardari's absence ...

- No party looks strong enough to sweep elections - Nawaz's PML (N) appears to be the front-runner - PPP's campaign hampered by Zardari's absence

nawazIslamabad (PTI): The first general elections in Pakistan that will usher in a smooth democratic transfer of power in 66 years are likely to go down to the wire with no party expected to get a majority.

With less than two weeks to go for the landmark election to choose the 342-member National Assembly, two-time former premier Nawaz Sharif appears to have an edge over others and his group may emerge as the single largest party notwithstanding a late surge by cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan in heartland of Punjab. Bhutto's widower, President Asif Ali Zardari, has been barred from campaigning by the judiciary and the PPP is struggling to woo voters even in its traditional strongholds in Sindh.

Attacks by the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan on the PPP and its secular allies, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) in southern Sindh and the Awami National Party (ANP) in northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, have forced them to curtail their election campaign and keep their leaders away from rallies and meetings. Analysts say all this has strengthened the hands of Sharif in an election seen as largely as issue less. In the last polls, the PML-N bagged 92 seats in the National Assembly.

Analysts believe the PML-N will bag around the same number of directly-elected seats this time around though the figure will be lower if the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf is able to woo the large crowds that have turned out for party chief Imran Khan's rallies, especially in southern Punjab.

Pakistan appears set for another coalition government, says Raza Rumi, Editor of The Friday Times. "Like India, Pakistani politics has become regionalised and more fragmented. Coalitions seem to be the future of Pakistani democracy, at least in the medium term," Rumi said.

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