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Pakistan Sets General Election in July


Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi arrives to attend The Queen's Dinner during The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace in London, April 19, 2018.

Pakistan will hold a general election July 25 and President Mamnoon Hussain has approved the date, electoral officials said Saturday, as the government enters its final week in office.

Pakistan’s government and parliament is to be dissolved May 31, when a new interim prime minister and an interim administration is meant to take over.

However, political wrangling between the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party and the opposition in parliament had delayed the announcement of the new interim premier.

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf, or Justice Party, is expected to be the main challenger to the ruling party.

FILE - Pakistan opposition leader and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Pakistan Movement for Justice) political party Imran Khan leaves Parliament after attending a session in Islamabad, May 23, 2018.
FILE - Pakistan opposition leader and head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI, Pakistan Movement for Justice) political party Imran Khan leaves Parliament after attending a session in Islamabad, May 23, 2018.

The outgoing government of Shahid Khaqan Abbasi is only the second to complete a five-year term in office, which underscores a democratic transition in the nuclear-armed nation.

The upcoming election is to be held at a time of growing political instability, with the ruling PML-N party accusing the powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since independence in 1947, of interfering in politics and trying to weaken it.

The military denies involvement in politics.

The interim administration usually does not make any major decisions except for supervising elections until a new government is elected, though it may be forced to act to shore up the $300 billion economy amid a worsening macro-economic outlook.

Pakistan’s foreign reserves are rapidly depleting and the current account deficit has widened sharply over the past year, prompting many analysts to speculate Pakistan may need another International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.

However, Pakistan is expecting to obtain fresh Chinese loans worth $1-2 billion to help it avert a balance of payments crisis, Pakistani government sources have said.

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