(ISLAMABAD) — Pakistan will make history on Saturday when up to millions of Pakistanis showed up at the polls to mark the first democratic transition in the nation’s history.
Pakistan, technically a democracy, has been led by President Asif Ali Zardari, an ex-convict, since 2008. Zardari’s wife, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated in 2007. Before Bhutto, the country was led by a military general who took power by kicking out the previous prime minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif.
In pre-election polls, Sharif was considered a serious contender to rise from the ashes and reclaim power in Saturday’s election.
Despite bomb blasts that have killed at least 16 people, over 86 million Pakistanis showed up to vote on Saturday.
The outcome of Saturday’s election will have far-reaching impacts, including on the United States’ war on terror. The leading candidates have criticized the war on terror, with Sharif calling for a complete rethinking of the war. His opponent has said he would pull Pakistan out of the war completely.
Whichever candidate wins, when the votes are counted, Pakistan will have a new government. Despite the explosions and Taliban threats, the country will have changed hands from one civilian government to another purely through democratic means for the first time ever.
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Ben Westcott, CNN
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
Madison Park and Steve Almasy, CNN
Barbie Latza Nadeau, Margot Haddad, Livia Borghese and Angela Dewan, CNN