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The outcome of Saturday's Pakistani elections won't just determine the next civilian government: It will also test the idea that the country's powerful military has pulled back from manipulating politics and accepted democracy.

This lack of visible meddling by the military in Saturday's election doesn't mean it isn't occurring, cautioned Peter Manikas, director for Asia programs at the National Democratic Institute, which is fielding observers for Saturday's vote.

"We have no evidence that the military is interfering in elections," said Mr. Manikas, who has observed Pakistani elections since 1990. "But I can't say for sure. It was doing some things in the earlier elections that were not apparent to us—so there is always a possibility."

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