Islamabad: Pakistan's next general election, that will mark the first ever transfer of power from an elected government to another in the country's chequered democratic history, will be held on May 11.

After receiving a formal proposal from Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf for setting a date for the general election, President Asif Ali Zardari announced this afternoon that the polls would be held on May 11.

"The President announced the date as soon as the (proposal) was received from the Prime Minister a short while ago," said presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar. Officials said the Election Commission would formally announce the schedule for the polls within the next two days. The National Assembly or Lower House of the Pparliament was dissolved after it completed its five-year term on March 16 and, under the rules, polls must be held within 60 days.

Pakistan's current government was the country's first civilian administration since independence to complete its full term. Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has spent several decades under military rule (1958 - 1971, 1977 - 1988, 1999 - 2008).

Babar said the Prime Minister had advised the President to announce a suitable date for the elections to the National Assembly under the provisions of the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act of 1976. In a related development, an eight-member parliamentary committee tasked with choosing a caretaker Prime Minister to oversee the polls held its first meeting on Wednesday afternoon. The panel must choose a candidate by March 22, failing which the matter will be sent to the Election Commission.

(Agencies)

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