Pakistan’s coalition government to step down on Aug 9: government sources

Islamabad, Aug 4 (EFE).- Pakistan’s coalition government, led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, will step down on Aug. 9, three days before the completion of its tenure, meaning that general elections will be held by November this year, a lawmaker said Friday.

The announcement was made by Sharif during a farewell dinner hosted by him in honor of allied parties’ members at the Prime Minister’s House on Thursday night.

“The Prime Minister announced during his speech (at the dinner) that the National Assembly (lower house of parliament) would be dissolved on Aug. 9,” a lawmaker and minister present at the event told EFE on condition of anonymity.

According to the country’s constitution, if the National Assembly is dissolved before time, general elections must be held within 90 days from its date of dissolution.

In case an elected assembly completes its term, elections must be held within 60 days.

The lawmaker said that a final round of discussions about the caretaker setup would begin on Friday and completed in two to three days.

“The PMLN (Pakistan Muslim League-N) has been engaged in consultations with the allies but a final round would start today,” the official added.

Sharif’s PMLN took charge of the government in coalition with over 10 other parties in April last year following the removal of former Prime Minister Imran Khan from office in a parliamentary vote.

According to the constitution, a caretaker government has to be appointed to conduct general elections due to be held latest by November this year.

PMLN supremo and former three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is Shebaz’s elder brother and in self-exile in the United Kingdom, is expected to come back to the country before the elections are held, his party has said.

In July 2018, the elder Sharif was sentenced to 10 years in prison and fined £8 million ($10.6 million) in a money laundering case and for corruption related to his family’s purchase of upscale London flats after the Supreme Court sacked him as the prime minister.

He was also sentenced to seven years in prison on corruption charges in another case by a Pakistani anti-corruption court in December 2018.

He was granted an eight-week bail on medical grounds in October 2019 and subsequently allowed to travel abroad for treatment for four weeks in November by then Prime Minister Khan.

His brother and incumbent PM Sharif had given an undertaking in a court that he would return, but he did not.

The elder Sharif was also disqualified for life from running for elections and holding any public office.

Recently his brother-led government amended laws replacing lifetime disqualification with only five years.

It is still unclear if the new law would also apply to the disqualification of the elder Sharif.

Current opposition leader Khan has nearly 200 cases against him including corruption, sedition, terrorism charges, all denied by him.

Khan claims that the cases have been registered against him to knock him out of the election race and pave the way for the return of Sharifs to power. EFE


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