No question of Punjab elections on May 14: Sana

Interior minister says elections across the country would be held at the appointed time this year

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Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah asserted on Sunday that elections to the Punjab Assembly would not be held on May 14 despite “all-out efforts” of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).

Elections across the country would be held at the appointed time this year, he said while talking to the media in Faisalabad. Despite the Supreme Court’s order to hold elections in Punjab on May 14, as well as pressure from the Imran Khan-led former ruling party, the security czar said elections would be “held together” under the caretaker setup. “If elections are not held in May, then October is not too far away either.”

The PTI had dissolved the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) assemblies on January 14 and 18, respectively, in a bid to force the ruling coalition to hold early general elections. Calling former prime minister Imran Khan a “fitna” (chaos), Sanaullah said that he had been brought to power through a “conspiracy”. “Their [PTI’s] policies over four years created a crisis situation for the country.”

Sanaullah said Khan used to claim that he would prefer to die by suicide instead of approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “It was [Imran Khan’s] government that signed the agreement with the IMF, not us. The difficulties are only due to the previous government’s agreement.” The incumbent government, led by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), has taken tough measures including increasing taxes and energy prices, and allowing its currency to weaken to restart a $6.5 billion IMF loan package. The funds will offer some relief to a nation still reeling from a dollar shortage that has raised the probability of the economy slipping into a recession ahead of elections this year.

Load-shedding and terrorism had been eradicated during the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) tenure, the federal minister said, adding that due to the PTI’s “wrong” policies, the country is now facing multiple crises. He also questioned what happened to Khan’s claim of creating 10 million jobs ad building five million houses. “Where are the jobs? We do not see any houses. Tell me one thing those people who were in power for the last four years did.” Sanaullah further said, “The condition of the common man will improve soon and the country will progress.”