Pakistan’s political deadlock deepens with no government formation in sight

By Amjad Ali

Islamabad, Feb 13 (EFE).- Intense negotiations continued Tuesday to form a new government in crisis-ridden Pakistan as parties try to forge a coalition to break a deadlock following the hung parliament results.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), led by imprisoned leader Imran Khan, declined any talks to form a ruling coalition with its arch-rivals — the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).

Although the PTI did not contest the elections as a party due to restrictions, it endorsed candidates who secured 90 out of 265 seats in the lower house of parliament.

While this number falls short of forming a government, it surpasses the PML-N with 79 seats led by three-time former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the PPP (54) led by ex-foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari.

As a result, no party managed to secure the required simple majority of 133 seats in parliament, which elects the prime minister in Pakistan.

PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan told reporters that they could form a coalition with the politico-religious group Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) to establish governments at the center and in Punjab province as per the instructions of Khan, who is currently in jail.

The MWM only managed to secure one parliamentary seat.

Ahmed Janjua, a leader of PTI, had previously said that special committees had been formed to devise strategies for forming the government in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, and at the center.

Independent candidates supported by the party have won more seats than any other party in these regions.

“The party has agreed to nominate candidates for premier, speaker of National Assembly, and other important parliamentary positions on its own,” Janjua told EFE on Tuesday.

“It is clear that PTI is not going to make any alliance with any party. So, it will put forth its own candidates for the premiership and other government positions.”

Khan, the 71-year-old charismatic cricketer-turned-politician, has been incarcerated following multiple convictions on various charges, including an un-Islamic and illegal marriage with his third wife, Bushra Bibi, a faith healer, who is also in jail.

Khan rose to the highest political office in 2018 before controversially being ousted from power in April 2022.

The PTI was effectively prevented from contesting the elections after the top court stripped it of its cricket bat election symbol. To bypass the restrictions, the party fielded independent candidates in the polls.

On the other hand, the PML-N also laid claim to power, presenting Nawaz Sharif as its prime ministerial candidate, his brother and former prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, told reporters.

Over the past five days of the deadlock, the PML-N and the PPP have held multiple meetings to form a coalition government.

Rejecting accusations of trying to lure parliamentarians from the PTI, Shehbaz Sharif said Khan’s party should form a government “if his candidates can demonstrate a majority.”

Bhutto-Zardari, who is the descendant of a political dynasty, said his party will not form any coalition government.

However, his party will extend support to a prime ministerial candidate from outside the party to end the stalemate and prevent the country from facing further crises.

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