ISLAMABAD - Ruling out the possibility of early elections in Pakistan, the Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal has said that General elections will be held on the basis of fresh data of the 7th digital Census in October next year. General Elections are not possible before October 2023 and will be held after the completion of the 7th Census in April or May, the Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiative Ahsan Iqbal said at the opening ceremony of the training of master trainers for the seventh digital population census here Tuesday. Ahsan Iqbal said that the Parliament will complete its term in August 2023 and the next general elections will be held on the basis of the 7th digital census in October. The Planning Minister said that new elections can be held in October only after the fresh census is completed in April or May and then the Election Commission of Pakistan will need four more months to draw new delimitations based on the new population data. The country is facing severe internal and external economic challenges; Ahsan Iqbal said, adding, that that Balochistan and Sindh are the most affected provinces due to recent floods and the two provinces need six to eight more months to recover. He said that the government has spent Rs 34 billion for this digital census and to ensure good governance, the government must have accurate data about the population and its distribution. Giving details about the last census, the minister said that in the last census (1981-1998) the population growth rate was 2.6 percent and in (1998-2017) the population growth rate was 2.4 percent. The federal minister further said that taking into account the population growth rate of Pakistan, conducting a fresh census is the urgent need of the hour, which has increased rapidly. The Planning Minister said that if the population growth continues at the current pace, Pakistan’s population will reach to 340 million by 2050. The Planning Minister claimed that Pakistan is not even close to default. He said that “We had left the development budget at Rs 1000b, but now it has come down to Rs 725b in the ongoing fiscal year. Pakistan’s development and defence budgets were equal, however, today the development budget is half of the defence budget, the minister added. Ahsan Iqbal said that they are brining investors to Pakistan, but the foreign investment also requires political stability. “My advice to PTI is to come back to the assemblies,” the minister said. He added that those who create instability in the country were enemies of the country.
PM vows to promote principles of freedom of expression, free media