(FILE) Men read instructions on how to receive election materials at a distribution center on the eve of the general elections in Peshawar, capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, July 24, 2018.EFE / BILAWAL ARBAB

Pakistan to hold general elections on February 8

Peshawar, Pakistan, Nov 2 (EFE) – The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) announced Thursday that general elections will be held on February 8, 2024, ending months of speculation.

“Respected members of the Election Commission headed by Chief Election Commissioner Sikander Sultan Raja met with the president at the presidency with relation to the date for elections. It was decided unanimously that elections would be held on February 8 Thursday,” said the electoral authority.

The elections were supposed to be held over three months ago, 90 days after Parliament was dissolved, as required by the Constitution, but the ECP said it needed time to redraw constituency boundaries following the recent census.

The delayed elections come as the country grapples with deep political, economic and security crises, accompanied by months of uncertainty that began when former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called for the dissolution of parliament on August 9.

The announcement also comes at a time of institutional deterioration in Pakistan, with former Prime Minister Imran Khan, the opposition leader and poll favorite to win the election, in jail.

Khan was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote in April 2022, but had been campaigning across Pakistan for early elections until he was jailed on corruption charges on August 5.

Although a court suspended his three-year sentence, Khan remains in jail on the “Cypher Case,” accusing him of leaking the contents of a diplomatic cable for political purposes.

Both judicial entanglements are a bar to Khan’s candidacy for the 2024 elections.

In addition to political uncertainty, Pakistan is also experiencing deep economic instability.

Before the International Monetary Fund approved a $3 billion bailout in June, the country was in a serious balance of payments crisis due to high foreign debt and crushing inflation.EFE