Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has denied all rumors about a delay in polls, saying that the next general elections for the national and provincial legislatures will take place as per schedule in October this year without any delay.
“The assemblies will complete their five-year term in August and polls will take place within the next 60 days. Elections will be held on time,” remarked Defence Minister Khawaja Asif .
When asked what he meant by “on time”, he replied: “In October. Elections will take place in October without any delay.”
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had dissolved the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies in January this year, hoping that the move would force the ruling alliance into dissolving the other legislatures as well and hold elections within the 90-day period. However, that did not happen.
The government has repeatedly opposed holding snap polls or holding polls for the national and provincial legislatures separately citing lack of security, funds and fresh census results.
Earlier, the PTI had expressed fears that the government might not hold polls even in October.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which is a part of the ruling coalition, had also constituted a three-member committee to convince other parties in the ruling alliance about holding polls on time.
PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari had even said delaying general elections beyond October would be “foolish”.
The Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (Pildat)— a think tank focusing on political and public policy research—also emphasized holding free and fair general elections for all the assemblies by October 2023.
“General Elections for [the] National [Assembly] and four provincial assemblies in Pakistan must be held latest by October 2023 after the National Assembly completes its 5-year term on 12th August,” said a statement issued by Pildat, adding the Election Commission of Pakistan must be fully prepared for that.
The current National Assembly will complete its five-year term on 12th August 2023, Pildat said, adding the fresh general election must be conducted within 60 days, as laid down in the Constitution of Pakistan, which suggests the latest conceivable date for the 2023 general elections is 12 October.
However, it added, if the National Assembly is dissolved even one day before the completion of its term, the election must be held within 90 days—on 11 November 2023.
Political experts firmly believe that only free, fair and timely general elections can bring back desperately-needed political stability in Pakistan.