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Pakistan elections: Nawaz Sharif's PML-N, Bilawal Bhutto's PPP agree to form coalition govt

PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif met PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and former president Asif Ali Zardari and invited them to work together for Pakistan. Imran Khan's party-backed independent candidates have won the most seats in the turbulent elections.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: February 10, 2024 11:19 IST
Pakistan elections, coalition government, Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto
Image Source : AP Nawaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto's parties agreed on a coalition government.

Pakistan elections 2024: After tense negotiations in the midst of vote counting in Pakistan's general elections, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party and Bilawal Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have agreed to form a coalition government at the Centre and in the Punjab province, as both parties fell short of the 133-seat majority mark required to form the government. 

According to Geo News, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shehbaz Sharif met PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto and former president Asif Ali Zardari and invited them to work together for Pakistan. Shehbaz also met top PPP leaders at the residence of Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi.

After initially rebuffing the possibility of a coalition government, Nawaz Sharif gave a speech on Friday, claiming to be the single largest party and said he told his younger brother Shehbaz to reach out to the PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari, JUI-F’s Fazlur Rehman and MQM-P’s Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui for the formation of a coalition government. 

Citing the need for all political parties to sit together and form a government, Nawaz Sharif said that elections cannot be held again and again and everyone should play a positive role in bringing Pakistan out of crisis. “We can’t hold elections again and again. We were all sitting together yesterday but didn’t address you because the results were not in. All the institutions in this country, every one should together play a positive role in bringing Pakistan out of this crisis,” he said.

Where do parties stand now?

As of 11 am, no clear victor has emerged in Pakistan's elections as vote counting nears completion. The Election Commission has declared the results of 250 constituencies, out of which Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won 99 seats, PML-N won 71 and PPP won 53. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (Pakistan) won 17 seats and the rest went to smaller parties.

Meanwhile, the PTI has also convened a meeting to discuss forging alliances with other political parties, after the party-backed independents sprung a surprise by winning the most seats overall. PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Khan, Asad Qaiser, Ali Muhammad Khan and others would attend the meeting that would discuss the formation of the new central and provincial governments, the party said.

The incarcerated former PM Imran also claimed victory in the elections and thanked the public for its overwhelming support, adding that the 'London plan' failed because of a massive turnout. "You have laid the foundation of real freedom by casting your votes yesterday [Thursday] and I congratulate you on the victory in the general elections 2024," he said, while claiming that the party-backed candidates will win 150 seats.

Imran had been in jail since August, and was convicted three times in six days in the lead-up to the polls for 10, 14 and seven years in cases related to state secrets, graft and unlawful marriage. His rival Nawaz returned from four years of self-imposed exile and was considered the front-runner to lead the country, having buried a long-running feud with the powerful military.

Election Commission faces flak for delay

Results of the vote have been unusually delayed, which the caretaker government ascribed to the suspension of mobile phone services - a security measure ahead of the election. Votes are still being counted after Thursday's general election which was marred by allegations of rigging, sporadic violence and a countrywide mobile phone shutdown.

Authorities were earlier moving at a snail's pace to announce the election results that in a surprising development showed Khan's PTI supported independent candidates leading the show. The polling ended at 5 pm on Thursday but the first official result was announced 10 hours later at 3 am on Friday, irking many about the delay and giving fuel to the rumours of foul play to manipulate the outcome.

The United States, Britain and the European Union on Friday separately expressed concerns about Pakistan's electoral process in the wake of a vote on Thursday and urged a probe into reported irregularities. The US State Department said it was looking forward to timely, complete results that reflect the will of the Pakistani people.

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Pakistan elections 2024: As vote counting nears finish line, who will become the next Prime Minister?

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