Pakistan will hold its next general elections on May 11, paving the way for the first transition of government through the ballot box under civilian watch in 65 years. The date was announced on Wednesday by President Asif Ali Zardari four days after the Pakistan People’s Party-led coalition government completed its five year-term, another first for a civilian dispensation in Pakistan’s history.

The National Assembly was dissolved on Saturday night and as per the Constitution, the new House has to be in place within 60 days. Provincial elections could also be held on May 11 as a broad consensus to this effect was reached at a meeting of Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf with all Chief Ministers last weekend. However, the President’s announcement did not mention the poll date for provincial assemblies.

A parliamentary committee set up to decide on a caretaker Prime Minister to oversee governance in the run-up to the polls could not arrive at a consensus at its first meeting on Wednesday. The committee has three days to take a final decision and if it fails to do so then the matter automatically goes to the Election Commission.