Nawaz Sharif addresses an election rally in Islamabad May 5, 2013.
Mian Khursheed / Courtesy Reuters

On May 11, an estimated 60 percent of Pakistan’s 86 million registered voters cast ballots to pick a new government. Election day, like the entire campaign season, was marred by deadly Taliban attacks, mostly at the rallies of avowedly secular parties. And some charges of voter fraud have darkened the proceedings. Still, the election was a democratic achievement worth celebrating: in a country where the military has aborted every democratic transition, this weekend marked the first turnover from one democratically elected government that has served its full five-year term to another.

As expected, the incumbent Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) was routed, effectively reduced to its traditional ethnic stronghold in Sindh province. After five years in power, the PPP government was too tainted by allegations of corruption and poor governance to win the votes of anyone but its most stalwart supporters. In addition, its leadership was virtually unable to campaign in public

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  • AQIL SHAH is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Society of Fellows, Harvard University and author of the forthcoming book Out of Control: Military Politics in Pakistan from Harvard University Press.
  • More By Aqil Shah