Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, addresses the 23rd Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Summit, hosted virtually by India, in Islamabad, Pakistan July 4, 2023. Image Credit: REUTERS file

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has announced that the tenure of the current coalition government led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) would end on August 14, 2023, and then the constitutional election body, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), would announce the date for the next general elections in the country.

The prime minister made this announcement while addressing a ceremony in Islamabad on Wednesday. Given the prime minister’s statement, elections in Pakistan are likely in the last week of October or first week of November, 2023.

Two provincial assemblies — of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) — already stand dissolved by the former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)-led governments in January this year.

However, elections were not held there despite the constitutional requirement of 90 days. The ruling coalition is of the view that for elections in the country all provincial assemblies as well as the national assembly should be dissolved.

Now as per the prime minister’s announcement, in August the National Assembly and the remaining two provincial assemblies — Sindh and Balochistan — will complete their tenure and elections will be held across the country.

Speculations laid to rest

The prime minister’s Wednesday announcement put to rest all the rumours regarding the government’s ‘unwillingness’ to go to general elections or that it is seeking extension in its tenure for one more year.

A day earlier, PM held a meeting with the PDM President Maulana Fazlur Rehman and it was reported in the media that Maulana had asked the PM to go for general elections on time.

While reiterating his government’s resolve to hold elections on time, the prime minister said, “I assure you that our government will end on August 14, and whenever elections happen, the ECP will announce it, and I hope that whichever government comes prioritizes education.”

“Whosoever forms the next government after elections, their top priority should be education so they can make this nation great,” the prime minister said.

Rs3 billion earmarked for youth education

The prime minister said a budget of Rs3 billion (Dh397.47 million) had been earmarked this fiscal year for the endowment fund to equip the youth with education and make them “builders of the nation”.

Earlier this week, the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which is a key coalition partner of the PDM government proposed the federal government to dissolve assemblies on August 8.

PTI has also been demanding elections as it foresees “its victory” in the upcoming polls.

In his address, the prime minister said Pakistan’s neighbouring countries had made greater strides and gone farther than Pakistan and now it was time when Pakistan should compete with them.

He acknowledged that nations faced difficulties and cited Germany and Japan as prime examples. “These countries were devastated during World War II but managed to make remarkable comebacks,” he said. We should not lose hope and have firm belief to prosper and rise once again, he said.