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PM vows to hand over govt to interim setup next month

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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that the coalition government will hand over the reins of the regime to the interim setup in August ahead of the general elections in the country which are expected to take place in October or November. 

“In August 2023, we will give responsibility to the interim government,” the premier said in an address to the nation after he announced that his government will complete its tenure on August 14. 

The premier repeated the circumstances in which the coalition government — a group of 13 political parties — came to power in April 2022.

“[We] cleaned up the mess of four years in 15 months and doused the fire that had engulfed the economic and foreign relations front,” he said, adding that during their 15 months in power, the coalition government “saved the state, not politics”.

However, PM Shehbaz added that he is a firm believer that Pakistan can come out of the conspiracies it faces by working day and night.

Coming back to the previous regime, he said that the last International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme — signed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government — was in the way of economic recovery. “However, now the new stand-by agreement has been signed.”

A day earlier, the IMF approved a 9-month Stand-By Arrangement (SBA) for Pakistan for an amount of about $3 billion days after reaching a staff-level agreement with the country.

The premier also thanked China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for “sincerely” cooperating with Pakistan during its difficult time. PM Shehbaz added that his government has also developed a comprehensive plan for economic recovery.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM)-led government, he said, is paving the way for investment from Gulf countries in agriculture, industry, energy and defence sectors.

“The confidence of the business and investment community is slowly being restored,” PM Shehbaz said and added that “now is the time to break the cycle of debt”.

“Let’s erase hatred, share love, become one nation,” appealed the PM. He assured that they will reduce inflation and bring employment like they did before.

A day earlier, the prime minister also said that the coalition government’s tenure would end on August 14 and the date for the next polls will be announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) either in “October or November”.

The premier’s statement suggested that the incumbent rulers are not contemplating dissolving the National Assembly before its scheduled date which is due to expire on August 14 this year.

The general elections take place after 60 days when National Assembly completes its Constitutional tenure. However, if the government dissolves the lower house of parliament before its constitutional term ends then the polls date can be extended to 90 days of the dissolution.

“Our government’s tenure will end on August 14 […] the election commission will decide when the polls will take place — whether in October or November,” he said during the Education Endowment Fund launch ceremony in Islamabad.

“…whosoever forms the next government after elections, their top priority should be education so they can make this nation great,” the prime minister said.

A budget of Rs3 billion, he said, had been earmarked this fiscal year for the endowment fund to equip the youth with education and make them “builders of the nation”.

All major ruling coalition partners — Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) — are seemingly on the same page for holding polls in line with the constitutional provision.

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