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Pakistani Lawmakers Set to Elect Next President

Pakistani lawmakers are set to hold presidential elections, which the widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is expected to win.

Members of Pakistan Peoples Party Friday said their leader, Asif Ali Zardari, will secure at least 400 of 700 votes, when lawmakers in parliament and four provincial assemblies vote on Saturday, September 6.

Zardari will face Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, a former judge nominated by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Mushahid Hussain, a member of the party that backed former President Pervez Musharraf, is also a candidate.

Mr. Musharraf resigned last month, while facing impeachment.

If elected president, Zardari will face a number of challenges including rising militant violence and a struggling economy.

In a column in Thursday's Washington Post newspaper, the PPP leader pledged to fight terrorism and restore Supreme Court judges purged by Mr. Musharraf during emergency rule late last year.

Pakistani officials say three of those judges returned to the bench Friday, after taking the oath of office.

Last week, Mr. Sharif quit the coalition government and became an opposition leader due to differences with Zardari over the restoration of the judiciary.

A new Gallup poll released Friday showed only 26 percent of Pakistanis believe Zardari should be president, while 44 percent did not want any of the three candidates.

More than one-third of the 2,000 people polled said they wanted a non-party president.

The survey was conducted in all four Pakistani provinces.