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In his address to the nation yesterday, prime minister Shehbaz Sharif said that he will hand government over to the caretakers next month. He had made an identical announcement a day earlier as well.

But on neither occasion he tried to remove the confusion about whether the coalition partners would go for the normal dissolution of the National Assembly (NA) on completion of its term on August 12 or he would advise the president for an early dissolution. Be that as it may, the general elections are now very much in sight.

These are certainly going to take place by October or November, so to speak. What is also clear from prime minister’s back-to-back statements is the fact that the incumbent government is no longer mulling imposing emergency on the country to extend its tenure beyond August this year on any pretext whatsoever.

Needless to say, one of the key advantages of regularly holding general elections is the fact that critical efforts cannot succeed without a legitimate and democratically elected government that is responsive and accountable to its people.

In addition to Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), all political stakeholders, in my view, are required to display or demonstrate a lot of responsibility in relation to the upcoming general elections. It is increasingly clear that democracy is taking root in Pakistan.

The PM’s remark that the incumbent coalition government will hand over power to caretakers next months ahead of general elections endorses the argument that democracy can and does take root in poor countries, including Pakistan.

The entire nation, including country’s armed forces, deserves praise for an uninterrupted journey of civilian rule since 2008 (four civil governments so far).

Sajid Rizvi (Karachi)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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