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Pakistan to hold delayed elections on February 8: Commission

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Pakistan will hold delayed national elections on February 8 next year, the election commission said yesterday, as the country grapples with overlapping political, economic and security crises.

The vote is set to take place without leading politician and former prime minister Imran Khan, who was barred from contesting polls after being convicted of graft and held in custody over leaking state secrets.

“It was unanimously decided that the election will be held on Thursday, February 8,” the Election Commission Pakistan (ECP) said in a statement, after its members met with President Arif Alvi. The president’s office confirmed the date in a statement.

Polls were supposed to have taken place within 90 days of Parliament’s dissolution but the ECP said it needed time to redraw constituency boundaries following the latest census.

The announcement comes after the Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the commission and the president to agree a date before the next hearing, in response to several challenges about the delay.

Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: AP

Pakistan has struggled through months of political chaos, with Khan waging a campaign of defiance against the powerful military after being ousted from power last year.

It was met with a widespread crackdown of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

The former international cricket star said the cases against him are politically motivated.

With Khan out of favour with the establishment, three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif returned from self-imposed exile last month to lead his Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) to polls.

He left the country four years ago to seek medical treatment in the United Kingdom, part way through a jail sentence for graft, for which he has been granted bail since returning.