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Pakistan schedules parliamentary elections for January

September 21, 2023

The country's election authority has announced a date nearly three months later than initially intended. Former Prime Minister Imran Khan is unlikely to compete, given a corruption conviction and other investigations.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party activists and supporters protest against the arrest of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, in Karachi on August 27, 2023.
Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan seems unlikely to compete in the now scheduled vote, having been convicted of graft earlier this yearImage: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan's parliamentary elections will be held next January, the country's election authority announced on Thursday, delaying the vote that was initially tabled for November.

The Election Commission of Pakistan said the elections are scheduled for the last week of January. A final list of new constituencies will be ready and published by November 30, the commission added.

What is the significance of the vote?

A caretaker government under the leadership of interim Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar is currently running Pakistan.

He took over in August with the approval of Shehbaz Sharif, who took power in April 2022 following the controversial ouster of popular ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan in a no-confidence vote in parliament.

In Pakistan, it is customary for a caretaker administration to be appointed for the election period. Parliament was officially dissolved in August.

Pakistan's former PM arrested after corruption conviction

Pakistan's political turbulence

Pakistan has been in the grips of considerable political turbulence since Khan was removed from power. He has since been sentenced to three years in jail on graft charges and disqualified for five years from standing for office.

However, the Islamabad High Court later suspended Khan's prison sentence, yet he remained in jail as he was also facing other charges accusing him of making public the contents of a confidential cable sent by Pakistan's ambassador to the United States.

Authorities have been taking vigorous action to suppress Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in recent months, among other things, by detaining thousands of his supporters and officials.

It was unclear whether the high court's order would enable Khan to run in general elections after his corruption conviction was suspended. However, his PTI party will likely remain a potent rival to Sharif's ruling Pakistan Muslim League party.

Pakistan has also been in a state of economic turmoil in recent years, with rampant corruption, the coronavirus pandemic, inflation and a strong US dollar and natural disasters all putting its economy under severe strain.

Falling rupee leaves Pakistanis struggling to buy medicine

rmt/msh (AP, Reuters)