Pakistan’s government made history by becoming the first democratically elected government to complete a full five-year-parliamentary term Saturday.
An interim government will now be installed until the next election, which is expected to be held in May.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who will continue in his office until a caretaker takes over to oversee the next national elections, hailed the completion of the term as a “victory” for democracy in the country as well as for his Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).
“Democracy is now so strong, that nobody will stage an ambush against it,” Ashraf, who has been in office only for nine months after the Supreme Court disqualified his predecessor Yousuf Raza Gilani for a contempt-of-court conviction, said during a televised address to the nation, as reported by Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
“We have strengthened the foundations of democracy to such an extent that no one will be able to harm democracy in future,” Ashraf said.
The term of the National Assembly, elected in a 2008 vote that ended nine years of military-led rule of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, began Mar. 17, 2008, though the coalition government, headed by Gilani took office eight days later, Mar. 25.
The parliamentary terms ends at a time when the government has come under fire for security lapses and for failing to protect the nation’s Shiite minorities from consecutive attacks launched by Sunni militants.
According to Human Rights Watch, more than 400 Shiites were killed in Pakistan last year. A series of deadly bombings rocked Pakistan’s Quetta earlier this year targeting the Hazaras. The Hazaras, who practice Shia denomination of Islam, in Sunni-majority Pakistan and Afghanistan, blame the Pakistani government for its negligence in acting against Sunni extremism to contain the violence.
The government’s most remarkable accomplishments in the past five years have involved changing the political power structure, rather than dealing with problems faced by the citizens, the Associated Press reported quoting political analysts.
The prime minister admitted that his Pakistan People's Party may not have been "able to provide rivers of milk and honey,” but it had tried its best to alleviate the country's problems.
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