Pakistan Elections Dates, Speculation Continues
Pakistan's ruling alliance led by the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz is now shaping the environment to hold the polls for the National Assembly and the Provincial Assembly simultaneously.
Interior Minister Rana Sanullah on February 19 said that general polls across the country should be held at the same time. He was addressing the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) workers' convention in Rawalpindi.
Polls to the Khyber Pakhtoonwa (KP) and the Punjab National Assemblies were required to be held within 90 days of dissolution of the same as per the constitution.
The Assemblies were dissolved after the Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) which was in power in the provinces had voted for the same with a view to force the government to hold elections.
The PTI has been fighting a campaign for early polls ever since the Prime Minister of the party was deposed in a no confidence motion in April last year.
The ruling alliance on the other hand is concerned over the economic situation with more taxes being imposed on the public due to IMF pre-conditions, the anger of the voters is leading the PML N to postpone the votes till the shock is reduced.
Former prime minister Imran Khan announced on February 18 announced that the party’s ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ would commence from Lahore on February 22 with the aim of putting pressure on the PML-N-led government to hold elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Imran has set up President Arif Alvi who is a nominee of his Party when it was in power to “bully,” the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) by holding consultations on the polls in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The president summoned the election commissioner for an "urgent meeting" on February 20 to hold a consultation on the date of the poll, but the ECP removed to attend the meet.
The PML N has been on the backfoot due to the economic fallout of various concessions that have been made to the International Monetary Fund with rising fuel prices and related spike in inflation hitting the common man which has blamed the current government for the woes.
Importantly the PTI when in power had failed to successfully engage with talks with the IMF and win over tranche which has further pulled down the Pak economy.
PML-N leader and deposed premier Nawaz Sharif's daughter Maryam Nawaz who has been recently elevated to Senior Vice President in the Party is out to challenge the PTI as polls are due in the province within 90 days after dissolution of the provincial assembly.
Maryam has disowned the Mini Budget raising taxes that has been presented by her party’s Finance Minister Ishaq Dar publicly.
Which way the public mood is, will be seen based on the response of the so-called Jail Bharo agitation and beyond.
Now it remains to be seen if Maryam who is seen to be having the charisma unlike her uncle and the Prime Minister Shahbaz Shareef is able to win back confidence of the people.
This factor will be decisive in the dates for the polls be it provincial or all inclusive.