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Thursday, February 22, 2024
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    Uncertainty Surrounding Timing of Elections in Pakistan

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    Prime Minister of Pakistan has stated that his government will complete its five-year term in August, shedding some light on the intentions of the ruling party regarding elections in the country this year. However, the exact timing of the polls remains uncertain. PM Shehbaz mentioned that the elections would be held either in October or November, with the final decision resting with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

    The term of the present National Assembly is set to expire at midnight on August 12, and according to Article 224 of the Constitution, a general election should take place within 60 days following the completion of the assembly’s term, unless early dissolution occurs. In the case of early dissolution, the ECP is required to hold the general elections within 90 days.

    While PM Shehbaz assured that the term of his government would end on August 14, there are conflicting interpretations. A senior official from the National Assembly Secretariat stated that the assembly would formally stand dissolved on August 13, as there is no provision in the Constitution to extend the legislature’s term. However, a key member of the federal cabinet clarified that the August 14 date was mentioned in the context of the country’s Independence Day and that the prime minister would hand over the government to caretakers “upon completion of the constitutional term.”

    The statement from PM Shehbaz, who is also the president of the PML-N party, comes amid speculations about a possible delay in the elections. Various leaders from coalition partners, including JUI-F, have expressed the need for timely polls. However, there has been no official word from the ruling PML-N party on this matter.

    The timing of the National Assembly’s dissolution and the elections is expected to be finalized through collective decision-making among the coalition partners. A meeting of the heads of the coalition parties will be held soon for this purpose. Additionally, the government plans to introduce amendments to the elections laws, and a bill is expected to be tabled during the farewell session of the assembly later this month.

    The proposed amendments to the elections law include increasing the limit of election expenses by candidates and imposing criminal action against election staff involved in rigging. The special parliamentary committee on electoral reforms is currently reviewing the draft of the proposed law and is expected to suggest key changes in its upcoming meeting.

    While PM Shehbaz has promised timely elections in Pakistan, the exact date for the dissolution of the National Assembly and the subsequent polls remains uncertain. The ruling party is in discussions with coalition partners to finalize these important decisions.

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