Published: Friday, May 10, 2013

Pakistan election campaigning ends

Campaigning in Pakistan ahead of Saturday’s general election has ended, with candidates holding final rallies.

The election will mark the country’s first successful transition from one civilian government to another in its 66-year history.

However, the run-up to the election has been marred by violence in which more than 100 people have been killed.

On Thursday, the son of former Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani was seized during an election rally.

Ali Haider – a candidate for the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) – was seized in the central city of Multan, Mr Gilani said.

The end of campaigning was marked by emotional pleas by some candidates.

‘National honour’

Nawaz Sharif, who leads the opposition Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and is tipped to be Pakistan’s next prime minister, made an impassioned plea to crowds in Lahore just minutes before midnight on Thursday.

“If you give us five years you will see that we can change the fate of this country,” he said.

He accused his opponents of selling the nation’s honour and vowed that his party would be different.

Former international cricketer Imran Khan, leader of the Movement for Justice party, addressed supporters in the capital Islamabad by video link from a hospital bed.

He was injured after falling from a makeshift lift at an election rally earlier this week.

“God will not take me from this world until a new Pakistan is built,” he said.

On the outskirts of Islamabad, supporters of the the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) also held a large rally.

pakParty chairman Bilawal Zardari Bhutto, son of assassinated Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and current President Asif Ali Zardari, also addressed the rally by video link.