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Backgrounder: Major political parties in Pakistani legislative election

By Xinhua

Islamabad : Pakistan will hold elections for the lower house of parliament and assemblies in its four provinces on Monday, and 49 political parties have applied for poll symbols with the Election Commission this year.

The following is a brief look at the main parties in the election.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)

The Pakistan People’s Party was launched in 1967 by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, who was elected as its first chairman.

The party’s declared aim was to achieve an ‘egalitarian democracy’ and considered ‘socialism’ to be the best vehicle for realizing this dream. The party gained mass popularity and continues to be one of the largest political parties in Pakistan.

The party has been in power for three times. Its late leader Benizar Bhutto was killed on Dec. 27 in a gunshot and bomb attack.

Pakistan Muslim League PML-N

The PML-N is the largest faction of the Pakistan Muslim League and is led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

PML-N is a centrist conservative party and has been in power twice in the 1990s. The party hopes to realize the founding vision of Pakistan and usher an era of prosperity through sustainable development.

Pakistan Muslim League PML-Q

The PML-Q is a splinter faction of the Pakistan Muslim League which was formed in 2001. The party has a center conservative outlook and supports President Pervez Musharaff.

Muttahida Majlis Amal (MMA)

MMA is a coalition of six religious parties. JI (Jamaat I Islami) and JUI-F (Jamiat Ulema Islam) are the largest parties within the coalition. The MMA has a highly conservative outlook.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM)

The MQM was formed to protect the rights of the Urdu-speaking immigrants from India after Partition. Altaf Hussain is the head of the party and continues to lead it from his self-imposed exile in Britain.

Awami National Party (ANP)

The ANP is a nationalist leftist party in Pakistan. The party is based in the North West Frontier province and enjoys widespread popularity with the Pakhtuns.