On March 24, Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, who took power in a coup in 1999 and resigned nine years later to avoid impeachment, ended years of self-imposed exile and returned to Pakistan vowing to contest presidential and parliamentary elections set for May. In an email interview, Colin Cookman, a policy analyst at the Center for American Progress specializing in Pakistan and Afghanistan, discussed what’s at stake in the elections.
WPR: What are Pakistan's major political factions and parties as the country heads into the elections?
Colin Cookman: Dozens of political parties and hundreds more independent candidates are likely to enter into the fray, but the only two parties with a track record of winning elections on a national scale are the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The PPP has led the national government for the past five years and faces an uphill climb to make the case to voters that it can improve on its performance. The PML-N has sought to forge alliances with other smaller parties to extend its reach outside of its stronghold in Punjab province.