According to sources, the administration has chosen to extend its constitutional term until August 2023.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presided over a meeting of coalition partners that reached the decision. The conference was attended by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Asif Ali Zardari, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui of the MQM-P, and federal ministers Azam Nazeer Tarar, Khawaja Asif, and Marriyum Aurangzeb. They resolved that the government will serve out its constitutional term in order to help the country recover from its economic woes.
The meeting also examined the Supreme Court of Pakistan’s ruling on Article 63 (A) and the situation in Punjab as a result of it. According Pakistani reports, the allies told Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif that they would back him up completely in any decision. They also recommended him to implement rapid economic stabilization measures.
Coalition partners recommended the government’s economic team to take immediate actions to stabilize the currency, according to officials who attended the meeting. They also advocated for the completion of the IMF program
The newly established administration is under pressure from the economy, with the dollar at an all-time high, and PTI Chairman Imran Khan staging rallies to call for early elections. The Supreme Court recently declared that votes made by dissident Members of Parliament (MPs) against the directions of their parliamentary party could not be counted. Despite the fact that no PTI members voted for Shehbaz Sharif in the prime minister’s election, at least 25 members of the party voted for Hamza Shehbaz in the Punjab chief minister’s election, leaving his fate in doubt.
As a delegation led by Finance Minister Miftah Ismail went for Doha on Wednesday to begin negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the coalition partners decided to take harsh decisions. The focus of the talks will be on reaching an agreement on a $1 billion tranche under the Extended Fund Facility.
One of the difficult decisions that the coalition government will have to make is to eliminate petroleum product price subsidies. Without succumbing to political pressure, the political leadership restated its intention to continue with electoral reforms while removing revisions to election rules enacted by the previous government. The coalition partners also demanded that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif take immediate action to halt the currency depreciation.
The federal government, meanwhile, is averse to having early elections without reforms. Apart from the customary agenda, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif presided over a cabinet meeting that discussed the present political situation. According to sources, cabinet ministers who oppose early elections argue that “difficult” decisions are needed for the country’s progress and alleviation for the ordinary people.