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Pakistan sets date for general elections

Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi (C) poses for a photograph with outgoing parliamentarians outside the parliament building in Islamabad, Pakistan, April 27, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Pakistan has slated July 25 as the date for general elections that is likely to result in a change of government.

President Mamnoon Hussain has approved the date, electoral officials said on Saturday.

Pakistan’s current government, led by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and parliament are due to end their terms on May 31, when an interim government would be formed to handle state affairs until the elections.

The ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the main opposition party, Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), will be the main contenders in the vote.

Political wrangling between the two parties in parliament had resulted in a delayed announcement of an interim government.

PML-N says it has invested in improving Pakistan’s rickety infrastructure and attracted billions of dollars in Chinese investment. It has also denied allegations of graft against its leadership by opponents like cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who heads the PTI.

PTI has vowed to fight corruption, presenting itself as the polar opposite of what it calls status quo politicians.

“The Pakistani nation... can see the dawn of a new Pakistan, which will not be ruled by the corrupt,” the party said in a statement posted Sunday on Twitter along with a graphic that read “Mafia’s Game Over.”

Leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Party Imran Khan delivers a speech during a political rally, in Lahore, Pakistan, on April 29, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Khan, who is hoping to achieve a years-long dream of becoming prime minister, vowed on Sunday to oust the ruling statesmen, whom he calls “motu gang.”

The vote will bring to a head the political tensions that have been building since former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court on corruption charges and later barred from politics for life.

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