The dissolution allows the caretaker government, which is still to be set up, to oversee the next general election within 90 days; that is, by November. However, the likelihood of elections being held by November is negligible after the government approved the holding of the next election on the basis of the Digital Census 2023.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has already said it would require four to six months for delimitation of constituencies on the basis of a new census, making it uncertain if the polls will be held on time. Hence, a prolonged and empowered interim government backed by the security establishment appears to be very much on the cards.
In his farewell address at the National Assembly, Sharif termed his 16-month tenure as the country’s chief executive the most difficult test of his life. “I never had to go through such a difficult test before in my 38-year-long political career as the country was mired in a severe economic crisis, oil prices remained high, and there was political chaos,” he said.
He blamed the previous government, led by his incarcerated political arch-rival Imran Khan, for all the challenges and difficulties faced by him since taking charge in April 2022. “We had to bear the burden of the previous government’s failure and negligence,” he said.
PM Shehbaz Sharif said the past government had damaged Pakistan’s reputation by violating the agreement signed with the International Monetary Fund. He blamed the previous government for taking heavy loans and “bowing our heads before the world”.
Sharif lashed out at his predecessor, saying that the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government had badly damaged Pakistan’s relations with friendly countries. The past government, according to Sharif, took steps on the most important internal matters of Pakistan, which created the worst atmosphere in the country and spread poisonous propaganda.
Sharif also condemned the May 9 episode when protests had erupted across the country following Imran’s arrest in a graft case. While the protests were underway, several properties, including military installations, were vandalised. “May 9 will be remembered as a black day,” PM Sharif said.“It was a rebellion against the army, the state, and Army Chief Gen Asim Munir,” he added.
The PM urged the House to adopt a resolution and pledge that “no one will be allowed to commit such acts against the state or army ever again”.
Meanwhile, the outgoing government is yet to finalise an interim cabinet and caretaker PM.
During his farewell address, Sharif said he would meet the so-called leader of the opposition in the NA, Raja Riaz, a dissident PTI lawmaker, on Thursday to discuss candidates for interim PM. “Tomorrow (Thursday) will be our first meeting, and as per the constitution, we will have three days to reach a decision.”
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