Challenge of democracy

The national election has marked the first transition between civilian governments in the nation's 66-year history. In its short existence, the nation has experienced three military coups, been ruled by generals for half its life and remains mired in political turmoil. The vote is a big test for Pakistan's democracy.

The main contenders in the race are Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, a 24-year-old son of late prime minister Benazir Bhutto who heads the Pakistan People’s Party, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif from the Pakistan Muslim League and celebrity Imran Khan from the Tehreek-e-Insaf party. 

The run-up to the election has been marred by violence in which more than 100 people have been killed.Many Pakistanis hope the polls will usher in reform in a country battling issues including corruption, a struggling economy and security threats.

Since April, the Taliban in Pakistan have killed dozens in attacks on the three main political parties. Many urban voters and parties regard resurgent fundamentalism as one of country's biggest threats.

Nawaz Sharif won the elections and with his victory a new fragmented political landscape emerged.