Former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, and his opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have dissolved the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab in an attempt to force the country to hold early national elections. Under the rules, fresh polls for the two provincial assemblies should be held within 90 days, and PTI is gambling on the national government being unable to afford to hold the provincial elections separately from a national election, which is otherwise due by October.
These two provinces alone account for more than half of Pakistan’s population of 220 million. Imran Khan, who is also a former captain of the Pakistan international cricket team, has been demanding snap polls since his ouster in a confidence vote in parliament in April. He has also led a nationwide protest campaign against his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, and was shot and wounded at a rally in October.
Prime Minister Sharif, whose government is working to improve the economy, has repeatedly rejected the calls for early polls. The dissolution of the provincial government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab means that fresh elections for these two provinces must be held within 90 days. PTI is betting that the national government will not be able to afford to hold the provincial elections separately from a national election, which is otherwise due by October.
This move by the opposition party is seen as a high-stakes gamble, as it puts pressure on the government to hold early national elections. It remains to be seen how the government will respond to this move and whether it will lead to early national polls.
It is important to note that the situation in Pakistan is complex and dynamic, and the outcome of these developments is uncertain. The political situation in the country will likely continue to evolve in the coming days and weeks.