Pakistan Reader# 472, 15 December 2022
On 15 December, Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) President Sardar Akhtar Mengal decided to assemble his party’s central executive committee meeting and take a closing decision about his party quitting the coalition government. A senior party leader said that the date for the committee would be announced within the next few days and that talks between Mengal and PM Shehbaz “were in progress.” This comes after the party objected to the government’s decision on the Reko Diq in the parliament and adopting constitutional resolutions in the Balochistan Assembly and said that they were not taken “in confidence” on the bills.
Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi’s attempts to bridge the gap between the government and the PTI proved unfruitful as Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar said that the PDM was “ready” to contest elections in the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies if Imran Khan dissolved the assemblies in both the provinces. After the meeting with two senior ministers of the government, President Alvi discussed met with Imran Khan to discuss the future of his activities after the PDM gave a nod to the contestation. One of the senior ministers said that it would be a “new experience” in the country and that new elections in the centre and the provincial assemblies were a rare sight for other countries.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah says ‘establishment’ unwilling to give dates for polls
Responding to Imran Khan’s announcement to dissolve the two provincial assemblies, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that Pakistan’s “establishment” will not provide the date for elections to the PTI and called on Imran Khan to continue the dissolution and to “get it over with.” He reiterated that the government will hold snap polls for the assemblies the PTI dissolves and will conduct by-elections on the seats “left vacant after their resignations,” and that the government is “confident” of their “victory” in Punjab and other provinces.
Additionally, he said, “...I think that he [Khan] might stretch this issue till March of February. However, I don't want him to delay this further. Let's end this uncertainty.” Sanaullah’s claims after he admitted that the elections would prove to be a costly affair for the country and that the process would “take a heavy toll” on the government. He also defended the government’s stance to avoid dissolving the National Assembly and said that they wanted to “stay in power” for the “better half of the country,” and blamed Imran Khan for running a “campaign to default Pakistan.”
Imran Khan says polls to be held in ‘70 per cent of Pakistan’ in the next 90 days
Following his announcement to declare the dates for the dissolution of the two provincial assemblies on 17 December, Imran Khan said that the announcement would “trigger” polls in nearly “70 per cent of Pakistan” within 90 days “in line with the law.” He said that the PTI would hold elections in the provinces and that the government does not “care about the country” in light of its socioeconomic instabilities and that “bad times” will lead to their “exit.” He criticised the government for objecting to his resignation appeal for the PTI National Assembly members where the assembly speaker pushed the PTI lawmakers to “return to parliament” and that their resignations would not be accepted if they were not “tendered under duress.”(Saleem Shahid, “BNP-M may quit ruling coalition,” Dawn, 15 December 2022, Syed Irfan Raza, “Another bid to defuse political tensions ‘fails’,” Dawn, 15 December 2022, “Sanaullah says ‘establishment’ will not give polls date to PTI,” The News International, 14 December, Imran Adnan, “Bajwa did to Pakistan no enemy could, says Imran,” The Express Tribune, 14 December, Muhammad Saleh Zaafir, “Present situation doesn’t allow snap polls: Ministers ask Alvi to tell Imran to ‘act sensibly’,” The News International, 15 December 2022)