Pakistan will hold parliamentary elections at the end of January, delaying a vote due in November

The announcement by the Election Commission of Pakistan has ended uncertainty about the fate of the vote. Earlier, some political parties had feared that the election could be delayed for an indefinite period

September 21, 2023 06:24 pm | Updated 06:24 pm IST - ISLAMABAD

Pakistan has been in deepening political turmoil since April 2022, when then-Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed from office through a parliamentary vote of no confidence. Although his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf can take part in the election, Mr. Khan himself will not be able to run unless his conviction is overturned. File

Pakistan has been in deepening political turmoil since April 2022, when then-Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed from office through a parliamentary vote of no confidence. Although his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf can take part in the election, Mr. Khan himself will not be able to run unless his conviction is overturned. File | Photo Credit: AP

Pakistan’s election oversight body announced on Thursday that it will hold the next Parliamentary elections in the last week of January, delaying the vote which was to be held in November under the Constitution.

However, the announcement by the Election Commission of Pakistan has ended uncertainty about the fate of the vote. Earlier, some political parties had feared that the election could be delayed for an indefinite period.

Pakistan has been in deepening political turmoil since April 2022, when then-Prime Minister Imran Khan was removed from office through a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

Mr. Khan was arrested in early August on corruption charges and imprisoned after a court convicted and sentenced him to three years in prison.

Pakistan's electoral map is being redrawn to reflect the latest census. In a brief statement, the election commission said a final list of constituencies would be published on November 30.

The Election Commission will announce the exact date of the vote later.

Also in August, Pakistan's President Arif Alvi on the advice of former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif dissolved Parliament at the completion of its five-year term, normally the trigger to start the process of holding elections within 90 days. The vote was to take place in October or November but it was delayed after the election commission said it needed more time to redraw constituencies to reflect the recent census.

Mr. Sharif resigned last month when Parliament completed its term.

Currently, caretaker Premier Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar is running the day-to-day affairs of the government.

Mr. Kakar said Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Opposition party had not been banned and it could field candidates in the election.

Since August, Mr. Khan, a highly popular 70-year-old former cricket star, has been held at the Attock prison in eastern Punjab province when he was sentenced and convicted of concealing assets he amassed by selling state gifts.

Mr. Khan himself will not be able to run in the election unless his conviction is overturned.

Pakistan bars anyone with a criminal conviction from leading a political party, standing in elections or holding public office.

Mr. Khan's political rivals, including the parties of former President Asif Zardari and former premier Sharif are likely to face a tough contest in the next elections. Mr. Sharif succeeded Mr. Khan after his removal in 2022 but failed to improve the ailing economy, though he was able to save Pakistan from a possible default.

Pakistan is currently facing one of the worst economic crises in its history, which has sparked anti-inflation protests.

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