Islamabad: Pakistan will hold general elections for parliament and provincial assemblies on July 25 and President Mamnoon Hussain has approved the date, electoral officials said on Saturday, as the government enters its final week in office.
Pakistan’s government and parliament are due to be dissolved on 31 May, when a new interim prime minister and an interim administration is meant to take over. However, political wrangling between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and the opposition in parliament had delayed the announcement of the new interim premier.
Actor turned politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, or Justice Party is expected to be the main challenger to the ruling party.
It is the second consecutive elected government that is poised to complete the five-year tenure. It was elected in 2013.
Earlier, the ECP announced that a total of 105.95 million voters will use their right of vote to elect the new government. Among them are 59.2 million male and 46.7 million female voters, showing A gender gap of over 12.5 million.
Turmoil continues to rock the country after former prime minister Nawaz Sharif was ousted by the Supreme Court last July on corruption charges and later barred from politics for life.
Sharif was the 15th prime minister in Pakistan’s seven-decade history – roughly half of it under military rule – to be removed before completing a full term.
After Sharif was ousted from power, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party (PML-N) took over the premiership.
Pakistan completed its first ever democratic transfer of power following elections in 2013, when the government headed by the Pakistan People’s Party handed over to the PML-N, following a landslide victory.
Despite the numerous court rulings against the PML-N, the party has won a string of recent by-elections proving it is likely to remain a powerful force.
The PML-N continues to enjoy large swathes of support in the country’s most populous Punjab province but will enter the election under increasing pressure.
The outgoing government of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is only the second to complete a five-year term in office, which underscores a democratic transition in the nuclear-armed nation.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s foreign reserves are rapidly depleting and the current account deficit has widened sharply over the past year, prompting many analysts to speculate Pakistan may need another International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.
However, Pakistan is expecting to obtain fresh Chinese loans worth $1-2 billion to help it avert a balance of payments crisis, Pakistani government sources have said.