On Sunday, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah stated that elections in the province of Punjab will not take place on May 14, as the Supreme Court has ordered, despite the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) “all-out efforts”. The minister insisted that elections would be held simultaneously under a caretaker setup. He also emphasized that elections across the country would take place at their appointed time later this year. The PTI had dissolved the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies in January in a bid to force the ruling coalition to hold early general elections.
Sanaullah called former Prime Minister Imran Khan a “fitna” (chaos) and stated that he had been brought to power through a “conspiracy”. He criticized the PTI’s policies over the past four years, claiming that they had created a crisis situation for the country. He also accused Imran Khan of signing an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under arduous conditions and noted that the incumbent government, led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), has taken tough measures to restart a $6.5 billion IMF loan package, including increasing taxes and energy prices and allowing its currency to weaken.
Sanaullah further stated that during the previous PML-N regime, electricity load shedding and terrorism were eradicated from the country. However, he added that due to the PTI government’s poor policies, Pakistan is currently facing several crises. He also questioned what happened to Imran Khan’s claim of creating 10 million jobs and building five million houses.
In addition, Sanaullah announced that PML-N supreme leader Nawaz Sharif would return to the country to oversee preparations for the polls and supervise the party’s election campaign. He stated that the PML-N has always taken the country out of crises, and Sharif’s return is expected to energize the party’s base and give a boost to its campaign efforts amid challenges on economic and political fronts.
The delay of the elections has caused a face-off between the federal government and Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial. The Supreme Court recently ruled that the delay was illegal and voting in the two provinces should take place between April 30 and May 15. However, the government rejected the party’s call for early elections, backing the Election Commission of Pakistan’s notice for delaying the votes to October 8, citing a lack of resources and an ongoing economic crisis.
In conclusion, the Interior Minister’s statement on Sunday confirmed that elections in Punjab province will not take place on May 14, despite the Supreme Court’s order. The ruling coalition has backed the Election Commission of Pakistan’s notice for delaying the votes to October 8, while the opposition PTI has been pushing for early elections. Sanaullah’s criticism of the PTI’s policies over the past four years and his announcement of Nawaz Sharif’s return to oversee preparations for the polls indicate that the PML-N is gearing up to face a tough challenge from the opposition in the upcoming general elections.