WASHINGTON - An American expert on South Asia, while saying that winners could not be predicted in Pakistan's May elections, believes PML-N is doing well, but some new parties, including PTI, would also have significant showings.

Daniel Markey, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, a think-tank, who recently returned from Pakistan, told reporters during a conference call, that PPP was likely to lose at least 40 seats in parliament and may end up in opposition in what he called a year of change.

But Markey, a former State Department officials, said the emerging new parties, like Imran Khan's party, will not have capacity to form a government, but he "could be in a position to be a kingmaker in ways that he hasn't been before."

Also present to take calls was Ryan Crocker, a former US ambassador to Pakistan.

But Markey, a former State Department officials, said 2013 will be year of in terms of transitions and likely changes. "In September President (Asif Ali) Zardari will reach the end of his term. And although it's possible that he will stay on, it's also quite possible that he will be voted out too.

"In November, the army chief (General Ashfaq Kayani) is slated to leave office. And in December another major power player in Pakistani politics and in government, is the supreme court chief justice, is slated to retire, he said.

About former President Pervez Musharraf, Markey said he would remain a fringe player in the elections and should care more about his security.

“In Pakistan he is widely seen as washed up, potentially in a hazardous position, because cases have been lodged against and because he has a lot of very dangerous enemies in Pakistan right now,” Markey said.  

He was responding to questions in the return of Musharraf to Pakistan to participate in the country’s general elections.

“There is a real question about his safety and security, and I join Dan (Markey) in hoping that very careful attention is being paid to that,” said Ryan Croker. Nevertheless, he might win a couple of seats, he added.

Markey said Musharraf “undoubtedly” gets, more respect in the US than he gets in Pakistan these days.

“He is remembered here as few other Pakistani leaders are.  In fact I would hazard to guess that if most Americans were asked to name a Pakistani leader, he might be still the top one who comes to mind,” he said.

“I frankly was still a little bit surprised that he did in fact return to Pakistan.  I read that the Saudis were assisting that return -- quite possible, although have no proof of it.  I hope that somebody is assuring his security, for his sake -- I think it would be disruptive -- otherwise, for Pakistan's stake,” he said.

"He doesn't have a real political vehicle yet to ride on as a party, and it would take him a matter of years to do that, to build anything, and there's no sign that he has the sense politically, as far as I can tell, to really make that a reality.  So I'm not quite sure who's advising him, but I wouldn't expect him to a major player any time soon in Pakistani politics," Markey said.