(CTN NEWS) – The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has officially declared that the highly anticipated general elections will take place during the final week of January in the upcoming year.
This announcement comes after a brief statement issued on Thursday, where the ECP explained that the originally scheduled November elections had been postponed due to the need for a fresh delineation of constituencies.
A final compilation of the new constituencies will be made available by November 30th, paving the way for the voting process, which will occur in late January.
Pakistan’s Electoral Process: Nominations, Campaigning, and Constitutional Requirements
This comprehensive 54-day process encompasses the submission of nomination papers, appeals, and the campaigning period, as stated by the electoral commission.
These elections in Pakistan, a country with a population of 241 million, became necessary following the completion of the outgoing parliament’s five-year term in August. Subsequently, a caretaker government was installed to oversee the electoral proceedings.
As per Pakistan’s constitution, elections must be conducted within 60 days of the dissolution of the national or provincial assembly upon completing a full term or within 90 days if the dissolution occurs earlier.
However, just prior to the conclusion of the outgoing government’s term, then-Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif gave the green light to the results of the country’s most recent census, an action that will be followed by the revision, or delimitation, of certain constituencies.
The announcement of the upcoming election comes at a challenging time for Pakistan, as the country grapples with significant economic, political, and security crises.
In April of the previous year, Imran Khan was ousted from his position as prime minister following a parliamentary vote of no confidence. Since his removal, Khan and his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party had been actively advocating for early elections.
During their campaign for early polls, PTI organized rallies across Pakistan, but in May, they faced a widespread crackdown resulting in the arrest of thousands, including Khan.
Challenges Facing Pakistan: Political, Economic, and Security Issues
Just last month, Khan was once again arrested, this time on corruption charges, and subsequently sentenced to three years in prison. While a high court suspended the sentence, Khan remains in custody as part of the “cipher” case.
In this case, he is accused of making the contents of a confidential diplomatic cable public for political advantage.
Khan contends that the diplomatic cable provides evidence of collusion between the United States, the Pakistani military, and his political rivals in his removal from power. Both Washington and the Pakistani military have denied these allegations.
In addition to these political challenges, Pakistan is grappling with an economic crisis, which has led to a balance-of-payments crisis and soaring inflation.
The country narrowly averted defaulting in July after securing a bailout package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
However, this financial assistance came with conditions, including the removal of subsidies on fuel and power prices and the imposition of additional taxes, which have triggered nationwide protests.
Furthermore, Pakistan is experiencing a resurgence in violence by armed groups, particularly in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces.
The Pakistan Taliban, an outlawed group known as TTP and ideologically aligned with the Taliban in Afghanistan, has escalated its activities, carrying out more than 300 attacks since the start of the year.
Who are the main contenders for the upcoming election in Pakistan?
Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) aims to capitalize on the sympathy and frustration of its supporters, hoping to replicate its 2018 victory.
However, the PTI’s electoral prospects are intricately linked to its relationship with the military, and the current standoff between the two parties makes a peaceful resolution seem unlikely.
Two other prominent contenders vying for leadership of the next government include the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), led by Shehbaz Sharif, the former Prime Minister, and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
Nawaz Sharif, a three-time prime minister and Shehbaz’s brother, who led the PML-N in the previous coalition government, seeks a return from his exile.
Nevertheless, due to a pending corruption conviction, Shehbaz remains a formidable frontrunner for a potential return to power.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, a 34-year-old and the dynamic chairman of the PPP, is another influential candidate.
As the son of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Bilawal gained recognition locally and on the international stage during his tenure as foreign minister in the outgoing government. He is widely regarded as a prospective future prime minister.
RELATED CTN NEWS: