Pakistan’s election body says ready to hold polls as ex-PM’s party gives government one-month ultimatum

A Pakistani man casts his vote at a polling station during Pakistan's general election in Quetta on July 25, 2018. (AFP/File)
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Updated 05 August 2022

Pakistan’s election body says ready to hold polls as ex-PM’s party gives government one-month ultimatum

  • Ex-PM Khan’s party says will not give PM more than one month to dissolve assemblies, call elections
  • Election experts say commission would be required to hold elections within 90 days if snap polls announced

ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan said on Friday it was ready to hold general elections in the country, as former prime minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said it would not give the government more than one month to announce the date for general elections.  

Since his ouster from power in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in April, Khan has been rallying for early elections, though the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has so far resisted his demand, insisting the government would complete its term by August next year. 

In April, the Election Commission of Pakistan had said elections could not be held before October as it needed at least four months to complete the process of delimitation of constituencies. 

On Friday, former information minister and PTI leader Chaudhry Fawad Hussain said the party would announce the date for a huge political gathering in Islamabad within the next 48 hours. He said the PTI leadership would call on PM Sharif to dissolve assemblies and announce an election date during the gathering.   

“But we cannot allow this government more than one month to announce elections,” he said during a news briefing. “If sense does not prevail in the government and it still does not announce elections, then I would say it should be ready for PTI’s next steps.” 

Hussain said the party feels it cannot allow the government more time as Pakistan’s economy would be immensely damaged under their supervision and the country’s politics would head towards destruction.  

“Shehbaz Sharif should announce the date for elections and then he should call a meeting of all parties to discuss [matters related to elections],” Hussain said.  

Separately, Khan’s PTI party announced the ex-premier would contest the upcoming by-elections, scheduled to take place on September 25, as a candidate from all nine constituencies.  



 On Friday, the ECP  said the months-long process of delimitation of constituencies for national and provincial assemblies had been completed. 

“The process of delimitation is completed and will be published soon,” Quratul Ain Fatima, a spokesperson for the commission, told Arab News, adding that the election commission would be ready to hold fresh general elections in the country “after publication of the list.” 

The commission has published all preliminary results of the delimitation on its website after an exhaustive exercise that started on April 16. 

As per the constitution, the constituencies for elections to the national and provincial Assemblies are to be delimited after every census. The government notified final results of the latest population census in March and therefore, the constituencies needed to be delimited afresh. 

After the delimitation process, the commission revised the number of National Assembly seats from 342 to 336 as the quota of special seats of the erstwhile federally administered tribal areas were merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 

The general election will now be contested on 266 National Assembly seats instead of 272. Women will have 60 and religious minorities 10 reserved seats in the house. 

According to the latest delimitation, Punjab province will have 141 National Assembly seats followed by Sindh 61, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 45, Balochistan 16 and Islamabad 3. 

“It is now the prerogative of the prime minister to call snap elections, or the government may want to complete its term till August 2023,” Rashid Chaudhry, deputy-director programs at the Free and Fair Election Network (FAFEN) in Islamabad, told Arab News. 

He said the election commission would be bound to hold fresh elections within 90 days of the prime minister dissolving the national assembly for snap polls. If the assembly completed its tenure, the commission would be required to conduct elections within 60 days, he added. 

“It is a large-scale operation to hold general elections across Pakistan, therefore it requires time for the preparation,” Chaudhry said. 

 Listing preparations ahead of the elections, he said the election commission had to announce polling schemes, the schedule for candidates’ nomination, their scrutiny, objections by the public and tribunals for adjudication before publishing the final list of the candidates and then allocating a campaign period for all candidates and parties. 

Pakistan captain Babar rules out Malik return for T20 World Cup

Updated 3 sec ago

Pakistan captain Babar rules out Malik return for T20 World Cup

  • Baber says team needed to give fresh talent more opportunities to develop 
  • Malik played last of his 124 T20 Internationals against Bangladesh last November

LAHORE: Pakistan captain Babar Azam has ruled out a return for veteran all-rounder Shoaib Malik to the Twenty20 squad ahead of the World Cup in Australia, saying the team needed to give fresh talent more opportunities to develop.

Malik, who played the last of his 124 Twenty20 Internationals against Bangladesh last November, has impressed in Pakistan's domestic T20 league and with the Asia Cup and World Cup on the horizon local media suggested the 40-year-old's experience could prove invaluable.However, there was no place for the former captain, a useful all-rounder, in the squad for this month's Asia Cup in the United Arab Emirates and Babar said they were looking to the future with the World Cup coming up in October-November.

"There are matches immediately after Netherlands, so it's unlikely there will be time for changes," Babar told reporters on Thursday ahead of their Dutch tour next week.

"When senior players leave the side, those replacing them need focus. (Mohammad) Hafeez and Malik were huge players and we'll miss them a lot, and players like Asif Ali, Khushdil Shah and Iftikhar (Ahmed) need to fill their boots.

"We want to give them plenty of matches and confidence, and these players have performed."

Pakistan will play three one-day internationals in Rotterdam before arriving in the UAE where they begin their Asia Cup campaign with an Aug. 28 blockbuster against arch-rivals India in Dubai.

Pakistan, Turkey sign trade in goods agreement

Updated 31 min 46 sec ago

Pakistan, Turkey sign trade in goods agreement

  • Pakistan PM has resolved to take bilateral trade with Turkey to $5 billion in next three years
  • Pakistan commerce minister Naveed Qamar and Turkish trade minister Mehmet Mus singed document 

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Turkey on Friday signed a ‘Trade in Goods Agreement’ under which both countries will get concessions on the trade of a number of goods and aim to increase bilateral trade.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in May visited Turkey where he expressed his resolve to take bilateral trade between the two countries to $5 billion in the next three years. The leadership of the two countries had also agreed then to speed up the process to finalize the Trade in Goods Agreement.

Pakistan’s minister for commerce Naveed Qamar and Turkish trade minister Mehmet Mus singed the new deal in Islamabad.

Sharif, while addressing the signing agreement, said the agreement had been under discussion for many years and would now open “vistas of opportunities” for both countries.

“Our potential is unlimited, our capacity is beyond anybody’s imagination and commitment is outstanding,” Sharif said. “Let’s now resolve to implement this agreement in letter and spirit and let the world know that we mean business.” 

“This Agreement will be pivotal in achieving the initial trade target of $5 billion. There is an unlimited potential for bilateral trade,” Sharif later said in tweet.

Turkish trade minister Mus called the agreement an important mile stone in bilateral ties.

“I strongly believe that this agreement will serve the expansion of our bilateral trade and will be most important tool to catch our 5 billion US dollar [bilateral] trade volume [target] set by our leaders,” Mus said.

The Pakistani commerce minister said under the new agreement, both countries had granted concessions to each other on a number of trading lines.

“I must say that we are grateful that our brothers from Turkey have given us concessions in 231 lines and Pakistan has given concession in 130 lines,” Qamar said.

'Sedition' case: Pakistani court sends ex-PM Khan aide to jail on judicial remand

Updated 12 August 2022

'Sedition' case: Pakistani court sends ex-PM Khan aide to jail on judicial remand

  • Gill was arrested on Tuesday afternoon over televised comments the media regulator says were “seditious”
  • Khan condemns “torture” of Gill in police custody, says he deserves a “fair hearing” even if he broke a law

ISLAMABAD: A local court in the federal capital on Friday sent Dr. Shahbaz Gill, a senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader and former prime minister Imran Khan’s chief of staff, to jail on judicial remand, rejecting a request by police to extend the suspect’s physical remand.

Gill was arrested on Tuesday afternoon, a day after controversial comments on a talk show aired by a private news channel, asking army officers not to follow orders of their top command if they were “against the sentiments of the masses.”

Local media reported Gill told the judge police had kept him awake at night and tortured him, saying investigators had not carried out a medical examination and lawyers were not being allowed to meet him.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan took to the twitter and condemned what he said was “torture being inflicted on Shahbaz Gill.”

“Under what law & under who’s orders is this being done? If he broke any law then he shd be given a fair hearing,” Khan said. “All laws are being violated with impunity.”



On Monday, the country’s national media regulator issued a show cause notice to ARY News, the channel on which Gill’s comments were aired, describing them as “seditious.” The channel has also been off air since Monday night.

A day earlier, on Thursday, a Karachi court released Ammad Yousaf, the news director at ARY News, while the Sindh High Court directed Pakistan’s media regulator and cable operators to restore the channel’s transmission immediately. 

In Karachi’s old town, birthplace of Pakistani founder stands hidden from public eye

Updated 12 August 2022

In Karachi’s old town, birthplace of Pakistani founder stands hidden from public eye

  • Wazir Mansion in Newnham Road has been officially recognized as Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s birthplace since 1953
  • Some scholars say the actual place of Quaid-e-Azam’s birth was 20 yards away, a building behind Wazir Mansion

KARACHI: While thousands of people flock daily to Mazar-e-Quaid, the mausoleum and final resting place of Muhammad Ali Jinnah in Karachi, and most know that he spent his last days at the Ziarat Residency in Balochistan, few can tell you with certainty where the founder of Pakistan was born.

Jinnah’s official place of birth, the three-story Wazir Mansion, is just a few kilometers away from his tomb, tucked away in a narrow street on Karachi’s Newnham Road, surrounded by shops and residential apartments.

Wazir Mansion was officially recognized in 1953 as the birthplace of Jinnah, revered as the country’s founder, who led the struggle for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the British-ruled Indian subcontinent from 1937 to Aug. 14, 1947, when Pakistan gained independence. He served as the new republic’s first governor general until his death in 1948.

“It was built during 1860-1870 with stone masonry in lime and jute mortar to suit the volatile weather of Karachi,” an information board on the house reads. “This is a precious national monument that provides inspiration to our nation.”

A handout picture, taken on January 10, 2021, shows a board placed by the Sindh government at Wazir Mansion, the residence of Pakistan's founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in Karachi. (Instagram/tahirhali)

While there are disputes over whether Wazir Mansion was the actual birthplace of Jinnah — some believe he was born in Jhirk, a small town in Thatta district, over 150 km away from Karachi — the building’s custodian, Muneer Hussain, said the building housed the very room “where Jinnah was born.”

Jinnah’s father, Jinnahbhai Poonja, arrived in Karachi from Mumbai to set up a business, and chose Newnham Road, then a steel trade hub, for his enterprise, Hussain said. He rented an apartment in Wazir Mansion, where Jinnah was born on Dec. 25, 1876.

“Seven siblings of Jinnah were also born in this building,” he told Arab News. “Fifteen hundred to two-thousand people, mostly students, visit us monthly and I want this number to be doubled because this small building has changed the map of the world.”

Dr. Kaleemullah Lashari, an archaeologist and historian, told Arab News theories claiming Jinnah’s birthplace was in another city were incorrect.

“This has been refuted by the statements of Quaid himself,” Lashari said. And then quoting a speech by Jinnah, he added: “He said that, ‘It gives me immense pleasure to stand here in front of you and tell you that I was born in Karachi’.”

However, according to Lashari, it was a building behind Wazir Mansion that was Jinnah’s true place of birth. 

“Jinnahbhai was occupying the part of property which was behind it [Wazir Mansion],” Lashari said.

“So, it’s the building which is behind it and this is the reason that the scholars don’t consider Wazir mansion [as Jinnah’s birthplace] …The Wazir Mansion, the present building which is there, was actually built after 1880, so

Jinnahbhai was occupying the part of property which was behind it ... There is a difference of 20 yards.”

While the difference is small, the scholar said it mattered as much as other details of Jinnah’s legacy and life.

“It is very significant [to know where Jinnah was born] but I tell you, not only the birthplace but every aspect of his life is significant and important,” the scholar said. “And there is need that attention is paid to the studies on his life and his works.”

Indian, Pakistani siblings reunite 75 years after Partition

Updated 12 August 2022

Indian, Pakistani siblings reunite 75 years after Partition

  • The brothers finally met in January at Kartarpur corridor, a rare, visa-free crossing
  • Corridor, opened in 2019, has become a symbol of unity and reconciliation for separated families

BHATINDA, India: Tears of joy rolled down his wizened cheeks when Indian Sika Khan met his Pakistani brother for the first time since being separated by Partition in 1947.
Sikh laborer Sika was just six months old when he and his elder brother Sadiq Khan were torn apart as Britain split the subcontinent at the end of colonial rule.
This year marks the 75th anniversary of Partition, during which sectarian bloodshed killed possibly more than one million people, families like Sika’s were cleaved apart and two independent nations — Pakistan and India — were created.
Sika’s father and sister were killed in communal massacres, but Sadiq, just 10 years old, managed to flee to Pakistan.
“My mother could not bear the trauma and jumped into the river and killed herself,” Sika said at his simple brick house in Bhatinda, a district in the western Indian state of Punjab, which bore the brunt of Partition violence.
“I was left at the mercy of villagers and some relatives who brought me up.”
Ever since he was a child, Sika yearned to find out about his brother, the only surviving member of his family. But he failed to make headway until a doctor in the neighborhood offered to help three years ago.
After numerous phone calls and the assistance of Pakistani YouTuber Nasir Dhillon, Sika was able to be reunited with Sadiq.
The brothers finally met in January at Kartarpur corridor, a rare, visa-free crossing that allows Indian Sikh pilgrims to visit a temple in Pakistan.
The corridor, which opened in 2019, has become a symbol of unity and reconciliation for separated families, despite the lingering hostilities between the two nations.

Sikh pilgrims arrive to take part in a religious ritual on the eve of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, at the Gurdwara Darbar Sahib in Kartarpur near the India-Pakistan border on November 18, 2021. (AFP/File)

“I am from India and he is from Pakistan, but we have so much love for each other,” said Sika, clutching a faded and framed family photograph.
“We hugged and cried so much when we met for the first time. The countries can keep on fighting. We don’t care about India-Pakistan politics.”
Pakistani farmer and real estate agent Dhillon, 38, a Muslim, says he has helped reunite about 300 families through his YouTube channel together with his friend Bhupinder Singh, a Pakistani Sikh.
“This is not my source of income. It’s my inner affection and passion,” Dhillon told AFP. “I feel like these stories are my own stories or stories of my grandparents, so helping these elders I feel like I am fulfilling the wishes of my own grandparents.”
He said he was deeply moved by the Khan brothers and did everything possible to ensure their reunion.
“When they were reunited at the Kartarpur, not only me but some 600 people at the compound wept so much seeing the brothers being reunited,” he told AFP in Faisalabad, Pakistan.
Millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims are believed to have fled when British administrators began dismantling their empire in 1947.
One million people are estimated to have been killed, though some put the toll at double this figure.
Hindus and Sikhs fled to India, while Muslims fled in the opposite direction.
Tens of thousands of women and girls were raped and trains carrying refugees between the two new nations arrived full of corpses.
The legacy of Partition has endured to this day, resulting in a bitter rivalry between the nuclear-armed neighbors despite their cultural and linguistic links.
However, there is hope of love transcending boundaries.
For Sikhs Baldev and Gurmukh Singh, there was no hesitation in embracing their half-sister Mumtaz Bibi, who was raised Muslim in Pakistan.
As an infant, she was found alongside her dead mother during the riots and was adopted by a Muslim couple.
Their father, assuming his wife and daughter were dead, married his wife’s sister, as was the norm.
The Singh brothers learned their sister was alive with the help of Dhillon’s channel and a chance phone call to a shopkeeper in Pakistan.
The siblings finally met in the Kartarpur corridor earlier this year, breaking down at being able to see each other for the first time in their lives.
“Our happiness knew no bounds when we saw her for the first time,” Baldev Singh, 65, told AFP. “So what if our sister is a Muslim? The same blood flows through her veins.”

Pakistani woman Mumtaz Bibi (C,B) sitting with her Indian brothers Baldev Singh (L) and Gurmukh Singh (R) at the Kartarpur corridor near the India-Pakistan border on May 18, 2022. (AFP/File)

Mumtaz Bibi was equally ecstatic when an AFP team met her in the city of Sheikhupura in Pakistan’s Punjab province.
“When I heard (about my brothers), I thought God is willing it. It is God’s will, and one has to bow before his will and then he blessed me, and I found my brothers,” she said.
“Finding those separated brings happiness. My separation has ended, so I am so content.”