Home Politics Pakistan’s Parliament Dissolved; Election Delay Likely Amid Electoral Boundaries Redrawing

Pakistan’s Parliament Dissolved; Election Delay Likely Amid Electoral Boundaries Redrawing


As Pakistan’s parliament is formally dissolved, the anticipated polls set to occur within 90 days are likely to face delays. The country’s electoral commission has cited the need to redraw electoral boundaries to reflect new census data, a process expected to span several months.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent arrest, subsequent imprisonment, and five-year political ban have created a ripple effect in the political landscape. Khan’s open defiance of the influential military establishment and claims of its apprehension toward elections have caused significant turmoil.

Following President Arif Alvi’s directive to dissolve the National Assembly, a caretaker government is set to assume control. The outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his administration have been granted three days to nominate an interim leader.

An official from the Election Commission of Pakistan revealed to the BBC that elections would occur post-census, a procedure anticipated to take around four months. Consequently, the possibility of delaying the elections until the following year looms.

Sharif, stressing the need for “national unity” for the country’s progress, recently suggested that the elections might not transpire in the current year. This delay has fueled speculation that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) coalition lacks confidence in securing victory due to Khan’s enduring popularity and the ongoing impacts of rampant inflation, despite assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

Khan’s unconventional approach has rattled the military establishment, creating a significant impact. Observers suggest that his arrest might even bolster his popularity. His detention in May on corruption charges led to nationwide protests, resulting in fatalities, numerous arrests, and attacks on military installations.

Khan’s conviction on graft charges, accompanied by his claims of military motives, illustrates a recurring pattern in Pakistan’s political landscape. Any challenge to the military’s authority, even from a charismatic figure like Khan, is met with resistance.

Analysts highlight the coexistence of two parallel government systems. The unsanctioned, de facto force appears poised to exert influence over the parliamentary process, leading to concerns about erosion of political, activist, and journalistic freedoms.

Recent legislative developments have further raised alarms. Draconian laws presented in the National Assembly aim to augment the military and intelligence agencies’ authority. Proposed amendments to the century-old Official Secrets Act seek to grant sweeping powers to intelligence agencies for arresting citizens suspected of breaching official secrets. Additionally, a new bill recommends imprisonment for disclosing the identity of an intelligence official.

The amendments have stirred controversy within parliament, with opposition parties and coalition partners criticizing the rushed passage of these laws without proper discussion. Critics argue that these measures will exacerbate human rights violations and undermine individual freedoms.

Pakistan’s intelligence services have faced allegations of unlawful detentions, with a rising number of enforced disappearances reported each month. In July alone, 157 cases of enforced disappearances were documented.

The bills await President Alvi’s signature to be enacted into law, triggering concerns about the potential expansion of intelligence agencies’ powers and the associated implications for rights and freedoms.



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