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Shehbaz, allies decide to complete tenure

Allies assure govt of full support in ‘tough decisions’ to stabilise economy

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government on Tuesday decided against holding early elections, as the allied parties assured the premier of their full support in taking tough measures to stabilise the economy.

A meeting of the coalition partners presided over by PM Shehbaz was held in Islamabad following the Supreme Court’s verdict on dissident lawmakers.

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Head of the allied parties, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Convener Dr Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui attended the huddle.

The meeting deliberated on the apex court’s decision, which declared the vote of dissenting lawmakers invalid, as it interpreted the Article-63A of the Constitution related to the disqualification of the lawmaker over floor-crossing.

According to reports, the allies pledged to support PM Shehbaz’s decisions to steer the country out of various crises and decided that the current set-up would complete its tenure until August 2023.

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The allies suggested that the economic team should take immediate steps to stabilise the value of the rupee and finalise the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme for the betterment of the economy.

It was also decided in the meeting that legal opinion on the decision of the top court would be sought and the likely constitutional and political crisis in Punjab would be dealt with.

The unity government also decided to kick off the process of electoral reforms.

The development came as it was learnt that powerful circles were urging the coalition government to hold general elections in October. On the other hand, the PPP is urging the PML-N leadership not to announce early elections.

The newly formed government is under pressure due to the economic situation as the dollar keeps reaching historic highs, while PTI Chairman Imran Khan has repeatedly demanded snap elections.

On the other hand, PML-N leader and former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that dissolving assemblies was “not a solution” to the prevailing economic crisis, and urged all political parties to sit together with the government and derive a solution to it.

“Dissolving the assemblies is not the solution,” Abbasi told reporters outside the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) offices in Islamabad when asked about the economic crisis. “The government is working hard to get the situation under control.”

The senior PML-N leader said the situation would not improve “until and unless all the parties sit at a table and talk”.

“This destruction [of the economy] started four years ago when the PTI government came to power,” he claimed. “Today, Imran Khan is the sole person responsible for the economic turmoil in Pakistan. You cannot expect a government to immediately fix things that he spoiled.”

Separately, PM Shehbaz had a meeting with the law minister and the attorney general in which consultations were held in light of the decision of the Supreme Court. According to reports, it was agreed to use all possible constitutional and legal options.

Also, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz on Tuesday said that Pakistan’s economy would collapse without raising petroleum prices.

Taking to Twitter, she wrote, “It is not difficult to make a decision but Nawaz Sharif and Shehbaz Sharif have an idea of the public grief which they are also worried about.”

While lashing out at the PTI chairman, she wrote, “Imran Khan has thrown the country’s economy on the ventilator but without raising the price of petrol and diesel the country’s economy will collapse.”

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