ECP proposes April elections for Punjab Assembly amidst Ramadan

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has proposed a date range for the upcoming elections in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In letters sent to the principal secretaries of the governors of the two provinces, the commission recommended that elections be held between April 9 and 13 in Punjab and April 15 and 17 in KP — both during the fasting month of Ramadan.

The suggestion comes days after caretaker governments were installed in the two provinces, following the dissolution of the assemblies by former prime minister Imran Khan on December 17.

The ECP cited Article 224 of the Constitution, which stipulates that a general election must be held within 90 days of the legislature’s dissolution.

It urged the government to finalise the date of the election in light of their suggestion, reminding the province to not exceed the proposed date.

The former prime minister has been demanding general elections since he was ousted in April after losing a contentious vote of confidence marred by allegations of military involvement. He has also led nationwide protests against his successor, Shehbaz Sharif.

Sharif has repeatedly rejected Khan’s demands, saying elections will be held as scheduled later this year. As for the provincial assembly elections, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said the government will hold snap polls as necessary.

Pakistan is due to hold general elections later this year. Snap elections in both provinces, in addition to general elections later this year, would be an expensive and logistically complicated exercise for a government dependent on aid.

The central government claims Khan’s tactics are damaging the economy. Pakistan has struggled with the aftermath of unprecedented floods that devastated the country last summer and which experts say were exacerbated by climate change. It is also facing a serious financial crisis and unabating militant violence.

Political analysts said this pressure played into Khan’s demands, although any local assembly elections did not constitutionally trigger a national election.

— With Reuters

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