Power Minister Khurram Dastgir on Friday said Pakistanis should be expectant of voting in a new government by November 10, affirming that 2023 was an election year.
He made these remarks during an interview, when asked whether this was an election year.
“Yes this is. I fully expect and hope that even if the prime minister chooses to dissolve the [National] Assembly a day or two before — the maximum we can go up to is Nov 10 — the people of Pakistan should be fully expectant of voting in their new government on or before Nov 10,” the minister said.
In reply to a preceding question, he mentioned that the Parliament would dissolve by itself on August 12.
The power minister’s statement is the clearest indication of a firm timeline for the elections coming from a member of the ruling PML-N yet.
It comes against the backdrop of the PTI chief Imran Khan demanding early polls since is ouster as the prime minister last year — an issue that continues to be a cause of discord between the opposition and the government.
Presently, uncertainty prevails over the fate of the elections, which are otherwise due in coming October after the completion of the PML-N-led government’s term on August 13, 2023.
As the ruling coalition is indecisive about holding the general elections in coming October, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb had said on Tuesday that elections would be held after the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) gave a date for the purpose on the completion of the government’s tenure in August.
“The PML-N and its allied parties have said that we will hold elections when the ECP gives a date after the completion of the incumbent government’s tenure in August. It is the responsibility of the ECP to give the election date,” she had said.
Meanwhile, there have been divergent statements from the coalition government’s leaders regarding the holding of general elections in October.
Recently, PPP co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari had categorically said that the elections would only be held with his nod.
In the meantime, Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) President and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl head Maulana Fazlur Rehman also expressed doubts over holding of polls in October.
“We are political people who are in favour of elections but the decision regarding (October) polls will be taken in consultation with the other coalition parties, just as the PDM made decisions after consulting the allied parties in the past,” Fazl said.
Former governor and PPP’s senior leader Makhdoom Ahmad Mahmood has hinted at a delay in polls, saying the caretaker setup, after the completion of the tenure of the incumbent federal government, might prolong for at least six months if it performed well economically.
‘Travesty of justice’
Questioned about the treatment being meted out to May 9 protesters, Dastgir addressed believers in democratic freedoms and said: “Those who have burnt, those who have attacked, those who have damaged, let them face the law. Don’t put a cloak of democratic dissent over them because that would be a travesty of justice.”
When the PTI’s treatment was compared with that of the PML-N in past years, Dastgir said his party’s leader and followers “never burnt a leaf”.
Regarding Pakistan’s energy mix, he said no new energy generation facilities would be based on imported fuel such as oil, coal and gas.
We are now focused on domestic sources of energy: solar, wind, hydel, coal and nuclear energy, he said.