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Coming months till general Elections in Pakistan

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Muhammad Arif : Chairman Centre of Advisory Services for Islamic Banking and Finance (CAIF), Former Head of FSCD SBP, Former Head of Research ArifHabib Investments and Member IFSB Task Force for development of Islamic Money Market, Former Member of Access to Justice Fund Supreme Court of Pakistan

Internationally one expects the ruling Pakistan Three-e-Insaf to complete its term, ending in 2023, with the military’s tacit support. Nevertheless, risks to political stability will remain high. Relations with India, Iran and Afghanistan will remain strained and divided. Government efforts to stabilize external and fiscal imbalances, combined with economic effects of the covid-19 outbreak, will have a dampening effect on growth. We forecast real GDP growth of 3.2% in fiscal year 2021/22 (July-June) and inflation with weakening of Rupees at very high level..

General elections are scheduled to be held in Pakistan less than 60 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly, which is set to dissolve on 13 August 2023, unless dissolved earlier: in which case the election shall be held within 90 days after dissolution. This means that the election must be held by or before 12 October 2023General elections were held in Pakistan on Wednesday 25 July 2018 after the completion of a five-year term by the outgoing government. At the national level, elections were held in 272 constituencies, each electing one member to the National Assembly. At the provincial level, elections were held in each of the four provinces to elect Members of the Provincial Assemblies (MPA).

As a result of the elections, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) became the single largest party at the national level both in terms of both popular vote and seats. At the provincial level, the PTI remained the largest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP); the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) remained the largest party in Sindh and the newly-formed BaluchistanAwami Party (BAP) became the largest party in Baluchistan. In Punjab, a hung parliament prevailed with Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N) emerging as the largest party in terms of directly elected seats by a narrow margin. However, following the joining of many independent MPAs into the PTI, the latter became the largest party and was able to form the government.

Opinion polling prior to campaigning had initially shown leads for the Pakistan Muslim League (N) (PML-N) over the PTI. However, from an 11-point lead, the PML-N’s lead began to diminish in the final weeks of the campaign, with some polls close to the election showing PTI with a marginal but increasing lead. In the final result, the PTI made a net gain with 31.82% of the vote (its highest share of the vote since its foundation), while the PML-N made a net loss with 24.35%. In the lead-up to the elections, there had been allegations by some pre-poll rigging being conducted by the judiciary, the military and the intelligence agencies to sway the election results in favor of the PTI and against the PML-N. The opposition to the winning parliamentary party alleged large-scale vote rigging and administrative malpractices. However, Reuters polling suggested PML-N’s lead had narrowed in the run-up to the elections, and that the party had suffered “blow after blow” which caused setbacks to any hopes of re-election.Some had termed the ruling PML-N “embattled… facing a number of desertion and corruption charges”. Imran Khan proceeded to form the coalition government, announcing his cabinet soon after. The newly formed coalition government included members of the MuttahidaQaumi Movement and Pakistan Muslim League (Q).

Regarding the voting process, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) outrightly rejected reports of rigging and stated that the elections were conducted fair and free. A top electoral watchdog, Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN), also said that the 2018 general elections in Pakistan had been “more transparent in some aspects” than the previous polls. In its preliminary report, the European Union Election Observation Mission said that no rigging had been observed during the election day in general, but found a “lack of equality” and criticized the process more than it had in the Pakistani election of 2013.

The 342 seats of the National Assembly consist of 272 elected by first-past-the-post voting in single-member constituencies, 60 seats are reserved for women and 10 for minority groups. The reserved seats are elected by proportional representation based on the national vote share in the single-member constituencies with a 5% electoral threshold.

The Government have passed a bill requiring the next general election to be held using EVMs (electronic voting machines). This is aimed at bringing an end to the allegations of rigging that have followed previous elections in Pakistan. But mostly in Pakistan feel that its failures in various countries push PTI to rig the elections. But elections commission is strongly against it.

In the run up to the next Pakistani general elections, various organizations will carry out opinion polling to gauge voting intention throughout Pakistan and the approval rating of the civilian Pakistani government, led by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. The date range for these opinion polls are from the previous general election, held on 25 July 2018, to the present day..

First, PM Khan has now bet on ShaukatTarin’s growth-above-all approach to the economy. I am a big fan, as I was in 2016, when Ishaq Dar had delivered the same thing. The early returns from this approach are also not surprising. Pakistan’s current account deficit is growing and without US dollar denominated, concessional gap financing, the growth story will barely begin before it begins to asphyxiate in the absence of US dollars.

WhertherTarin will try to generate the forex needed to sustain this growth-at-all-costs approach is a mystery – given the hardball that the Biden Administration seems to want to play with Pakistan. But if PM Khan manages to register better than expected growth, he will have pulled off a small heist with a big potential political payoff in 2022-2023. But main hurdles in the way are extremist religious parties with their linkages in Afghanistan.

The situation is very dangerous right now with establishment backed Imran Khan on throne, divided opposition but most dangerous point is extremists to get free and divide Pakistan and most horrible is the 70-80% population is under severe poverty. Let us see what happens in the coming month

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