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Pakistan's National Assembly to be dissolved on August 9: Shehbaz Sharif

A bill to empower the caretaker set-up to initiate policy decisions was recently passed by Pakistan's Parliament.

Pakistans National Assembly to be dissolved on August 9: Shehbaz Sharif

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. File photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has told the coalition partners that he would recommend the dissolution of the National Assembly on August 9, three days before the end of its term and setting the stage for general elections in the cash-strapped country.

Mr. Sharif at a dinner reception hosted in honour of the ruling allies at the Prime Minister's House on August 3 said the National Assembly or the lower house of Parliament would stand dissolved as soon as the President signs the notification he plans to send to him, the Pakistani media reported on Friday.

Mr. Sharif, also president of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, has repeatedly said that his government will dissolve the National Assembly and the election commission will announce general elections under the provisions of the Constitution.

However, if, for any reason, the President does not sign the advice, the 342-member Assembly will be automatically dissolved after 48 hours of receiving the prime minister’s notification.

The move will prompt general elections in Pakistan within 90 days as the ruling coalition government gets ready to face polls after the five-year term of Parliament on August 12.

The Constitution provides that if the assembly completes its tenure, elections are to be held in 60 days, but in case of premature dissolution — which will be the case here — this period is extended to 90 days.

The Prime Minister will send a notification to President Arif Alvi for the dissolution of the National Assembly on August 9, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

At the reception, Mr. Sharif apprised the participants that the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) had finalised consultations within the party, and the premier would begin a final round of discussions with allies on the caretaker set-up on Friday.

Mr. Sharif had last week ruled out the possibility of the appointment of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar as the caretaker prime minister, saying a "neutral person" will be selected to lead the interim government next month to make upcoming general elections transparent.

A bill to empower the caretaker set-up to initiate policy decisions was recently passed by Pakistan's Parliament.

Mr. Sharif has also indicated that Nawaz Sharif, three-time former prime minister and his elder brother, who has been living in self-imposed exile in London since 2019 will return to Pakistan in the next few weeks.

The 73-year-old PML-N supremo will be the Prime Minister if the party wins the election, he said.

The Prime Minister during the reception said the process of appointing the interim premier was expected to take at least three days.

An online meeting with allies on the caretaker set-up is also expected to be held on Friday.

On August 3, Foreign Minis­ter Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also held a lengthy meeting with the prime minister on this issue, the source said, according to the report.

The premier briefed his allies at the dinner about the coalition government's performance. He claimed that the government had increased revenue collection by 13 per cent in 15 months as more than 1.3 million new taxpayers were included in the tax net.

Mr. Sharif claimed recoveries remained over 90% in the power sector. However, it may be noted that the circular debt posted an 18 per cent — ₹393 billion — increase in the past 11 months, according to the report.

The Prime Minister said that significant progress was witnessed during the last four months in the IT sector and added that the total volume of IT expo­rts went up to $2.6 billion in the previous fiscal year.

He said that foreign investment remained at $1.45 billion during the fiscal year 2022-23 and hoped that with the establishment of the Special Investment Facili­tation Council (SIFC), more foreign invest­ment would be fetched.

Mr. Sharif said with the ₹1.8 trillion Kissan Package, the government has met 99% of targets and saved the country from default. He added that comprehensive policies have been devised for the welfare of the people.

The reception was attended by Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, Speaker of National Assembly Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Pakistan People's Party (PPP) leaders Yousuf Raza Gilani, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.

Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam(F) (JUI-F) leader Asad Mehmood, Balochistan Awami Party leaders Khalid Magsi and Senator Ahmed Khan, Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) Chairman Shahzain Bugti, Aslam Bhootani, Mohsin Dawar and were also among those who attended the reception, according to the report.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khursheed Shah expressed reservations over Sharif's decision to hold forthcoming general elections as per the new census.

He was of the view that the new census required new delimitations which was not possible in three months.

The PPP, which is one of the major allies in the ruling coalition, also disagreed with the idea of selecting a caretaker prime minister from any political party.

In a statement, the PPP said the party had finalised five names for the post of caretaker prime minister. However, it added that any other name could also be considered for the coveted slot.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will be the final authority to pick the caretaker Prime Minister if the parliamentary committee responsible for the selection of the interim premier fails to select a caretaker PM.

On the caretaker setup, Prime Minister Sharif said the ruling coalition would try to bring in a person acceptable to all stakeholders and added that his government would go home in the coming days.

At the same time, he thanked all the parliamentarians for reposing trust in him and lauded National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani on how he ran the house.

Shehbaz Sharif became the Prime Minister in April last year after the National Assembly passed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan and ousted the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party from the top post. Mr. Khan's PTI won last general election in 2018.

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