Islamabad: Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party Sunday announced that it will formally launch its election campaign in Punjab Monday though there is no clarity on the date of the polls in the politically crucial province.
“Tehreek-e-Insaf will officially launch its election campaign tomorrow. They (Pakistan Democratic Movement) may not be ready but we are ready,” PTI Secretary General Asad Umar tweeted.
The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) is a coalition of political parties headed by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) currently ruling the country.
Interestingly, PTI’s announcement of launching the election campaign comes despite uncertainty surrounding the elections in Punjab, the most populous province which also sends nearly 150 lawmakers to the National Assembly.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) is waiting for funds from the federal government to conduct the elections. The Defence Ministry has informed the ECP that the Pakistan Army will not be available for providing security.
Parliament and the judiciary have also locked horns over the holding of elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces as the cash-strapped government has refused to authorise the funds to meet the expenditures amidst the economic crisis facing the country.
The Supreme Court has directed the federal government to release Rs 21 billion in funds for the ECP by April 10 and provide security for the elections.
However, the government has refused to release funds for the polls as the Parliament rejected the proposal.
The defence ministry had also filed a petition in the Supreme Court calling it to take back its order of holding polls May 14. The case is being heard in the Supreme Court and during the proceedings Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial remarked that the three-member bench will not take back its order for holding polls May 14.
Former prime minister Khan has been pushing for snap elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the provinces where his PTI ruled till recently.
The PTI dissolved the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies January 14 and 18, respectively, in a bid to force the ruling PDM coalition in Islamabad to hold early general elections in the country.
The PTI finalised a list of 297 candidates recently after PTI Chairman Khan interviewed all party candidates in person to uphold merit in awarding party tickets, media reports said.
But the allotment of tickets has not gone well within the party as many high-profile leaders were snubbed, the reports said.
Meanwhile, Geo News reported, citing sources, that Khan was planning to include the party’s Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Umar in the review committee to address objections.
The current term of the National Assembly will complete its five-year term in August this year. According to the Constitution, elections shall be held within 90 days after the dissolution of the lower house. This means that the election must be held by mid-October. The last general election was held in July 2018.