Political parties in Pakistan negotiate for coalition government

Islamabad, Feb. 12 (EFE).- Major political parties in Pakistan were expected to meet on Monday to negotiate a possible alliance following the results of last week’s election that saw no single party get the required number to form a majority government.

As per official results released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (EPC) on Monday, independent candidates, mostly backed by imprisoned former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) emerged as the largest political group with 101 seats.

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), led by three-time former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, came second with 75 seats followed by Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which secured 54 seats.

In this scenario, PPP finds itself in a pivotal scenario where it can form the government by backing either of the top two parties and helping them get the required 133 seats for a majority in the National Assembly (NA).

In total, the NA has 336 seats out of which 266 are directly elected, 60 are reserved for women and 10 for non-Muslims.

According to the law, the National Assembly or lower house of the Parliament, shall meet on the twenty-first day after the elections, unless summoned by the president sooner.

The PPP’s decision-making body was scheduled to hold a meeting on Monday evening in Islamabad to decide on its support before the NA is convened.

“The meeting of the central executive committee of Pakistan People’s Party is being held today at 7pm in Islamabad to decide the party’s future course of action,” PPP spokesperson Hafiz Naeem told EFE.

On Sunday, the leadership of PPP and PML-N met in Lahore and discussed the overall situation of the country and a possible political cooperation, according to a joint statement by them.

“The leaders agreed to cooperate politically to bring the country to political stability,” the press release said.

On the other hand, a team of lawyers and senior PTI leaders were also expected to meet Khan in jail in Rawalpindi to discuss the party’s strategy in the current scenario.

“Although the final decision will be made by Imran Khan, I think making an alliance with the PPP is unlikely,” PTI spokesperson Ahmed Janjua EFE.

PTI leader Shafqat Mahmood has said that another coalition government involving the PML-N and the PPP, like the one after Khan was ousted by a no-confidence motion in April 2022, was “in the offing led by Shehbaz Sharif,” but warned that it “won’t work.”

According to local media reports, after showing a poor performance in the election, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif has stepped down from as a prime ministerial contender in favor of his brother, Shehbaz Sharif, who headed the coalition government after Khan’s ouster.

The elder Sharif contested for two NA seats but won one. However, the results of the seat he won have been challenged in the Lahore High Court by the PTI alleging electoral fraud.

On Sunday, several political parties including PTI staged protests across the country against alleged rigging in Thursday’s general elections.

Protests were held in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Karachi and Lahore. Police at some places fired tear gas shells to disperse the protesters while some were arrested.

The victory of Khan’s allies at the polls came as a big surprise to Pakistan, given Khan’s disqualification and imprisonment, a crackdown on the party and its senior members, and the tacit backing of Sharif by the country’s all powerful army. EFE


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