But parliamentary elections in Pakistan are often decided on intensely local issues, primarily which candidate can do the most for his constituents -- from feasts for thousands of supporters during the campaign to promises of local public works projects.
The IJI's platform promises that it would form an "Islamic welfare state" in Pakistan, "doubling natural resources" within five years and initiating a guaranteed per capita income of about $160, about a third of the current national average.
The IJI's candidate for prime minister, Mian Nawaz Sharif, is the chief minister of Punjab state in northeastern Pakistan. With 115 of the National Assembly's 217 elected seats, Punjab is where the bulk of the most closely contested campaigns are being waged -- and probably is where the election will be decided.
On Street No. 1 of the Gulshan Colony section of Gujrat, where the Pakistan People's Party has targeted a seat held by an IJI family for more than 30 years, a new sewer line is being put in, courtesy of the IJI candidate's clout.
While plenty of IJI supporters and banners can be found nearby, most residents of the street laugh at the sewer line in front of their homes, saying they favor Ms. Bhutto and the PPP anyway.