Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar expressed optimism on Monday regarding the forthcoming announcement of the date for the next general elections in Pakistan, which are expected to take place in January 2024.
The Prime Minister defended the caretaker government’s role, addressing accusations of preferential treatment towards PML-N leader Nawaz Sharif upon his return to the country. He compared this situation to the level playing field established during the 2018 general elections.
Mr. Kakar, who had just returned from attending the Belt and Road Forum (BRF) conference in China, where the 10th anniversary of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was celebrated, held a news conference. He was accompanied by members of his cabinet. During the press conference, he expressed his reluctance to allocate government advertisements to print media and expressed dissatisfaction with some reporters’ questions regarding the country’s political situation, the general elections, and the caretaker government’s performance.
With regards to the general elections, when asked about the election date announcement, he said, “It appears that the election date will be revealed shortly. We aspire for all political parties and their affiliated players to participate in the electoral process. However, if any court-imposed restrictions arise, we will comply with the court’s orders.”
Responding to allegations from some political circles that a level playing field was not provided to all political parties, the Prime Minister stated, “What can the caretaker government achieve in two months that would enable any party to secure 171 seats in the National Assembly during the elections?”
Regarding the extraordinary protocol given to Nawaz Sharif upon his return and the presence of the Pakistani High Commissioner in the UK at the airport, Mr. Kakar replied, “I refrain from commenting on this matter.”
When asked about the need for Nadra to use a biometrics machine to scan Mr. Sharif’s fingerprints at the Islamabad airport, the Prime Minister stated that, as a citizen of the country, Mr. Sharif had the right to undergo biometric scans at the airport. He added, “If someone believes that a level playing field should be established for a specific party, which many desire, I cannot facilitate that. If Mian Nawaz Sharif is indeed a Pakistani citizen, as I believe he is, he has the right to undergo biometric scans. So, what additional steps has the government taken in this regard? If Nadra assisted him, did he gain any political advantage through this process? A routine database procedure was misconstrued as evidence of an uneven playing field. Do you recall the conditions of the level playing field in 2018?”