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Election: early warnings

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GENERAL elections may be 16 months away if the existing legislatures complete their full five-year term but election season seems to have already hit the country. This is partly so because local government polls, after years of postponement on numerous pretexts, are taking place on court orders and because of the dogged persistence of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). KP completed its two-phase LG election relatively smoothly in March this year. The first phase of the Balochistan LG election involving 32 out of a total of 34 districts has also been completed under surprisingly peaceful conditions though there were apprehensions due to reports of possible violence by separatist militant groups which recently stepped up their activities by staging some high-profile attacks. LG elections in the remaining two districts of Balochistan, ICT, Sindh and Punjab are overdue and expected to be held in the next two to three months.

The current electoral scene is, however, tense. What has made the political environment extraordinarily tense is the simultaneous by-elections in 20 high-stakes constituencies of the Punjab provincial assembly next month. These constituencies had become vacant after PTI members were de-seated for defecting from their party to vote for Hamza Shehbaz Sharif, the PML-N candidate for chief minister. Since the sustainability of the Hamza Shehbaz government is dependent on the PML-N’s victory in these constituencies and the PTI’s popularity will also be tested in the constituencies which were won by the party in 2018, these elections have assumed extraordinary significance and the situation........

© Dawn

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