By Kiran Butt
LAHORE, Pakistan (AA) - In the latest major event in Pakistani politics, the country's top election authority announced by-elections for 33 parliamentary seats on March 16.
These seats in the legislature's lower chamber, the National Assembly, became vacant after its speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf accepted another batch of resignations from lawmakers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, led by former premier Imran Khan who was ousted from office in April 2022 in a vote of no confidence.
The PTI legislators in the National Assembly had submitted their resignations within the month of Khan's removal in protest of their removal. Since then, Ashraf has accepted their resignations in groups -- 11 in July 2022, 34 on Jan. 17, and 35 on Jan. 20.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has already denotified a total of 43 PTI members after they hinted at bringing a no-confidence resolution against the sitting Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
According to the ECP's notification on the latest by-elections, the final names of the candidates will be made public on Feb. 9 after the electoral watchdog completes its scrutiny process.
Major areas of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan are included among the constituencies that will vote.
In a bid to push the government to hold fresh general elections, Khan has already dissolved two major provincial assemblies in which the ECP will be announcing the date for the elections soon after receiving the advice of local governors.
During a live broadcast in Lahore Khan on Friday also accused a co-chairman of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP), Asif Ali Zardari, of plotting an assassination attempt against him.
"Now, they have made a plan and Zardari is behind it. He has unlimited corrupt money that he has given to a terror outfit. His facilitators are powerful people in the agencies also," claimed Khan.
Meanwhile a senior member of the PPP, Hassan Murtaza, denied these claims while speaking to the media and said they risked generating more unrest in the South Asian country.