In a significant political development, Pakistan’s President took the step of dissolving the country’s parliament as per the recommendation of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The lower house of the Parliament’s five-year term is due to end on August 12. This move comes at a critical juncture as Pakistan grapples with both political and economic challenges.
The decision to dissolve the parliament was executed just three days prior to the culmination of the current parliamentary term. As part of the process, a caretaker administration will be established, jointly chosen by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a representative from the outgoing parliament’s opposition leadership.
This caretaker setup is designed to facilitate the holding of fresh elections within a span of 90 days. Sharif, addressing the parliament, announced his intention to advise the president to dissolve the body, setting this sequence of events in motion. Furthermore, discussions between Sharif and the opposition leader are slated to commence shortly, with a focus on selecting a caretaker prime minister from candidates proposed by both sides.
Potential Delay and Implications
However, it’s important to note that the actual electoral process might encounter a delay of several months. This pause is attributed to the election commission’s undertaking of constituency redrawing, based on the results of a recent census. Analysts have cautioned that any such postponement might incite public discontent and exacerbate uncertainty in the nation, particularly considering Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities.
Context of Previous Election and Political Dynamics
The most recent general election in July 2018 culminated in a victory for the party led by Imran Khan, the former cricketer-turned-politician. Khan assumed the role of prime minister shortly thereafter, marking his debut in the position. Khan’s tenure, however, was punctuated by political turmoil, including his removal via a no-confidence vote the following year.
This sequence of events raised concerns about the country’s stability. Subsequently, Khan encountered legal troubles, leading to his conviction, imprisonment, and disqualification from participating in elections for a five-year period.
Allegations and Challenges
Khan, throughout his political journey, accused the influential military establishment, which has historically wielded power in Pakistan, of orchestrating his removal from office. The military vehemently denied these allegations, underscoring the complexities and tensions within Pakistan’s political landscape.
Sharif’s Challenges and Economic Crisis
Stepping into Khan’s shoes, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif inherited an array of challenges, particularly an entrenched economic crisis characterized by soaring inflation and the need for extensive reforms to secure funding from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Credibility of Elections and Leadership Transition
While this impending election has been set in motion, the sidelining of Imran Khan, a prominent and popular leader as per polls, raises questions about the credibility of the electoral process. His absence from the political stage could potentially cast a shadow over the perceived fairness of the upcoming elections.