Shehbaz Sharif

He is a three-time chief minister of Punjab, and in March 2018, was elected president of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz). With his brother and former PM Nawaz Sharif and his daughter and political heir Maryam in jail, Shehbaz Sharif is the face of the PML-N for these elections. Shehbaz was forced to flee Pakistan after the military coup of 1999 and returned home only in 2007. During his second term as CM in 2009, Shehbaz was disqualified from holding public office by the Supreme Court, a decision which, however, was overturned by another bench.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz

It emerged as one of the successor parties of Pakistan Muslim League in 1988. Its founding president was Fida Mohammad Khan while Nawaz Sharif was its first secretary-general. As part of a coalition, it formed the government in 1990 and then again in 1997, before its leader and prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted in the 1999 military coup. It emerged as the largest party in 2013 elections and formed government. PML-N is considered a centre-right party with a liberal economic focus and has a strong base in Punjab.

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Imran Khan

Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan is best known as the captain who won the Cricket World Cup for his country in 1992. A graduate of University of Oxford, he founded PTI in 1996. Known for his philanthropic activities, including investments in hospitals, he has positioned himself as an outsider who doesn’t hail from any political dynasty. Imran Khan is a vocal critic of the US’ involvement in Pakistan’s polity.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

Founded in 1996, PTI won the third largest number of seats in the 2013 elections. It also governed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Ideologically positioned as a centre-right party, it advocates welfarism and a democratic system infused with Islamic ideals. The party is frequently accused of receiving support from security establishment.

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Bilawal Bhutto Zardari

He is the son of late PM Benazir Bhutto and former president Asif Ali Zardari. Educated at Oxford, he was named chairman of Pakistan People’s Party in 2007 at the age of 19 when his mother was assassinated. Initially, he was more of a titular head as his father controlled the reins, but over time Bilawal has come to assume a much larger role in the party’s functioning.

Pakistan People’s Party

Founded by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1967, the PPP is one of country’s oldest and most prominent parties. The party has been in power on five separate occasions, the last time being in 2008-13. In the outgoing National Assembly, it was the main opposition party. PPP is considered a centre-left party with socialist ideals. It has a stronghold in Sindh. The party has faced criticism on various corruption charges, particularly relating to its leader Asif Ali Zardari.