17 Mar 2013

Pakistan's Ashraf government makes history

3:01 pm on 17 March 2013

The Pakistani government has made history as the first elected government since the country was founded in 1947 to complete a full five year term.

Parliament has been dissolved, and a caretaker administration is assuming power until elections, which are expected in May.

Prime minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said the completion of the government's term is a victory for democracy.

Since Pakistan was founded in 1947, governments were often overthrown in coups, toppled by political infighting or end in assassinations or murders.

But a BBC correspondent reports that overhanging the democratic transition is the continuing militancy and growing sectarian unrest.

Pakistan's parliament was dissolved at midnight local time and the interim administration is expected to be installed in the next few days.

Two opposition parties - led by ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and former cricket star Imran Khan - are expected to present the greatest challenge to the governing Pakistan People's Party (PPP) in the elections.

At the same time, Mr Ashraf is facing a corruption investigation over allegations that he took bribes while he was a minister.

Mr Ashraf, who became prime minister after his predecessor was forced out amid a dispute with the judiciary, has been in the job for less than a year.