Amid political turmoil and an ongoing economic crisis, Pakistan dissolved its parliament late on Wednesday on the recommendation of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, setting the stage for a general election.
The dissolution has paved the way for a caretaker government to oversee elections in which former prime minister Imran Khan will be unable to participate.
Khan was jailed over the weekend after being convicted of corruption in one of the several cases filed against him since his removal from office in April 2022.
The Pakistani president has given the outgoing government three days to appoint a new interim prime minister and 90 days to hold general elections. However, the outgoing government has warned that the elections may be delayed until next year.
What next for Pakistan, and Imran Khan
According to reports, the Pakistani government is considering postponing the elections, as it struggles to stymie security and political challenges that threaten to destabilise an already cash-strapped country.
The instability in Pakistan has also put the United States on alert.
“We’re obviously concerned about any actions — particularly violent actions — that can contribute to instability in Pakistan or, frankly, any other country with whom we share a set of common interests when it comes to counterterrorism,” said White House official John Kirby said, as quoted by news agency AFP.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won the most seats in the last general elections held in the country in 2018. The former cricket star was sworn in as prime minister three days later.
With general elections looming again, Pakistan’s military, which has staged at least three successful coups since 1947, once again casts its shadow across the strife-torn country.
Experts believe that Khan’s popularity, and his ouster, both were largely influenced by the military with whom he fell out routinely. The former Pakistan cricket captain ran a campaign of dissent against the military, alleging that the military had interfered in politics. He even accused an intelligence officer as the “mastermind” of an assassination attempt on him in November during which he was shot in the leg.
Despite staging protests for early elections and pulling his PTI lawmakers from the parliament, Khan’s crusade against the military ultimately went kaput as he was slapped with over 200 cases.
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