Pakistan’s Supreme Court has ruled that the forthcoming provincial election in Punjab should take place on 14 May 2023, despite the government’s desire to delay the polls. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had earlier cancelled the previous election schedule, which would have seen the vote on 30 April. The Court’s judgement stated that neither the Constitution nor Pakistani law permitted the ECP to adjourn elections beyond the 90 day period dictated by Article 224(2) of the Constitution. The Court further instructed the federal government to give the ECP PKR21bn ($201m) for the election by 10 April. The government had unsuccessfully called for the election to be delayed and instead merged with general elections scheduled for 30 July. The province is seen as central to the ruling Muslim League’s hopes of retaining power in the forthcoming general election. Increasing violence in Punjab makes the outcome uncertain: more than 300 lives have been claimed by attacks linked to Islamist extremists in the province since 2016. On Friday, a suicide bomber killed 14 people in the city of Lahore during a protest, largely reported to have been organised by Islamist extremist groups.
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