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Pakistan's economic crisis could deepen if Imran Khan wins all nine Assembly seats

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Islamabad | August 6, 2022 11:25:59 PM IST
The announcement by former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan that he will contest elections on all nine Assembly seats has sparked furore and concerns across the nation as the already crippling economic situation of the country could be exacerbated if the PTI chief wins all the seats by any chance.

Following the Election Commission of Pakistan's announcement to hold by polls in nine Assembly seats which fell vacant after the National Assembly Speaker accepted the resignation of 11 MNAs of PTI, Imran Khan announced his candidature in all nine seats.

But it should be noted that if the PTI chief wins elections from all nine constituencies then he will have to choose one out of the nine, which will lead the Assembly to conduct the polls once again. The ensuing political instability and rising popularity of Imran Khan could have disastrous consequences for the country's faltering economy.

According to the Dawn, it was estimated that the national exchequer will have to bear the cost of millions of rupees in order to conduct bypolls again.

The minimum expenditure incurred in an election in one constituency is around Rs 50-100 million, while in sensitive and far-flung areas the cost is approximately around Rs 100 million, sources said.

Sources added that in order to conduct elections in nine constituencies, it is estimated that Rs 500-900 million will be needed as expenses include printing and purchase of material used such as ballot papers, forms, bags, etc.

Moreover, the additional expenses are also incurred on security from rangers and police officials, deployment of army, training of election staff, IT equipment, and transport and fuel.

Consequently, if Khan wins the elections, in any case, bypolls will once again be held in all nine constituencies which will lead to an expenditure of nearly Rs 500-900 million.

This comes as a challenge for Pakistan as the country already is grappling under the economic crisis.

It is pertinent to note here that Imran Khan is already a member of the National Assembly as he won 2018 general elections from Mianwali.

In 2018, Khan contested from five constituencies and won all five. He managed to bag every single seat he contested on, which included, NA-53 Islamabad, NA-35 Bannu, NA-243 Karachi, NA-95 Mianwali, and NA-131 Lahore.

Ultimately, he had to vacant four seats and decided to retain the Mianwali constituency.

Election Commission of Pakistan on Friday announced that bypolls on nine National Assembly (NA) seats will be held on September 25.

The poll body announced the schedule for the constituencies of NA-22 Mardan, NA-24 Charsadda, NA-31 Peshawar, NA-45 Kurram, NA-108 Faisalabad, NA-118 Nankana Sahib, as well asNA-237 Malir, NA-239 Korangi Karachi and NA-246 Karachi South.

The nine seats are among the 11 vacated after acceptance of resignations of PTI MNAs by the National Assembly speaker, and their de-notification, last week, following the removal of the party chief Imran Khan from the office of the Prime Minister earlier this year.

The NA speaker had accepted the resignations of 11 PTI MNAs, including nine on general seats and two on reserved, under Article 64(1) of the Constitution of Pakistan.

On July 28, National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf accepted the resignations of the PTI Lawmakers three months after the en-mass resignation of the lawmakers on April 11 following the ouster of then Premier Imran Khan from the top office after the no-confidence motion moved by the joint opposition in the parliament against him succeeded.

The government accepted the resignations of 11 PTI MNAs including Shireen Mazari, Ali Muhammad Khan, Ijaz Shah, Farrukh Habib, Shandana Gulzar, Fazal Muhammad, Fakhar Zaman, Abdul Shakoor Shad, Jameel Ahmed and Akram Cheema, ARY News reported.

The confirmation of the acceptance of the resignations was issued by the NA Secretariat, which issued a list.

Notably, the PTI members after approval of the party's leadership tendered their resignations from the National Assembly. PTI MNA Murad Saeed was the first PTI MNA who submitted his resignation to the National Assembly's speaker, ARY News reported.

The then-Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly Qasim Suri approved the resignations of the PTI MNAs.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif's coalition government, which took over in April 2022, is grappling with multiple political and economic crisis.

Its current account deficit has surged to USD 17.4 billion or 4.6 per cent the size of the economy during the last fiscal year on the rising trade deficit.

A surging current account deficit amid depleting dollar inflows from multilateral and bilateral lenders, as well as shrinking foreign investment have brought the foreign exchange reserves and rupee under enormous pressure over the last several months.

It has stoked rapid inflation, forced the State Bank to boost borrowing costs to a multiyear high and eroded investor confidence in the economy.

The deepening political turmoil is spawning doubts about the government's ability to make tough decisions going forward and tackle the longstanding structural issues of the economy responsible for the recurring balance-of-payments crisis. (ANI)

 
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