Islamabad, Pakistan President Arif Alvi dissolved the National Assembly on Wednesday, 9 August, on the advice of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, marking the end of the assembly's five-year term. While typically a general election would follow within 90 days, this year might see a delay. The Election Commission of Pakistan might opt for redistricting based on recent census results, potentially pushing the elections to spring.
This development comes amidst the legal turmoil surrounding former Prime Minister and cricket legend, Imran Khan. Khan, who was removed from office following a no-confidence vote in April 2022, was recently arrested after a court conviction. Despite these setbacks, Khan remains a significant figure in Pakistani politics, having appealed his conviction and requested a transfer to a high-profile detention facility.
Addressing his final Cabinet meeting, Sharif highlighted the challenges faced during his tenure, including Pakistan's severe economic downturn and the catastrophic floods of the previous summer, which resulted in significant loss of life and economic damage. However, under Sharif's leadership, Pakistan secured a $3 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund, averting a potential debt default.
Sharif, in his address to the parliament, indicated the possibility of elections by mid-November. However, the decision to possibly redraw constituencies could delay this timeline. Following the dissolution of the parliament, a caretaker government will oversee daily operations until the elections. While Sharif has influence over the selection of the caretaker prime minister, he has yet to disclose his preferred choice.
The Christian political community remains divided over the current electoral system. Established by the late President General Pervez Musharraf, the proportional representative system has faced criticism from various Christian factions. Some advocate for dual voting rights, allowing them to vote for both majority and minority candidates. In contrast, others demand a separate electoral system, enabling the direct election of their representatives. These concerns, however, seem to have fallen on deaf ears, with the upcoming elections set to proceed under the existing system