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Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto in talk for coalition govt ‘to save country from political instability’ – India TV

Pakistan election results: Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari
Image Source : AP/FILE Ex-PM Shehbaz Sharif (R) and PPP leader and former Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (L)

Islamabad: Hours after the Pakistan Election Commission released the final vote count, putting independents, backed by jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, in the lead with 93 of 264 seats, the Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N party floated the idea of a coalition government with its earlier partner- Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). On Sunday, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders began discussing the terms of an alliance with the PPP and the Muttahida Quami Movement-Pakistan, The Express Tribune reported. According to the report, PML-N would take the post of prime minister, and the posts of the President and Speaker would be set aside for its partners if an alliance is agreed upon.

VIDEO: Bhutto meets former PM, Shehbaz Sharif

It means Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari-led PPP party which had projected him as the Prime Ministerial candidate would no longer be in the race with Nawaz Sharif who had declared him PM even before the general election took place on February 8. Notably, the PML-N has secured about 75 seats in the National Assembly, PPP has secured 57 seats. A prime ministerial candidate has to show a simple majority of 169 seats in the National Assembly when the house is called in the coming days. This will be determined by coalition talks and whether Khan-backed candidates are able to join a smaller party in parliament to form a single bloc to gain reserve seats.

Internet outage amid protest call 

Imran Khan’s PTI party had threatened to hold nationwide peaceful demonstrations on Sunday if the vote tally was not released overnight. While a large-scale protest was called off, a police source and motorists said hundreds of PTI supporters had blocked traffic in the northern city of Peshawar. “We are stuck here on the road as the PTI workers had closed the motorway as a protest,” said motorist Shah Zaman Khan. A police source said on condition of anonymity that around 300 PTI supporters had blocked the main highway connecting Peshawar to the national capital.

Pakistan’s interim government said the voting count delay was caused by communications issues due to a mobile internet outage on election day. The outage, which authorities said was for security reasons, drew concern from human rights groups and foreign governments, including the United States. In a post on social media platform X on Sunday, a PTI party secretary said there should be demonstrations at certain electoral offices where they were concerned about “forged” results. Around 93 of the independent candidates who won seats were associated with Khan’s PTI party.

Winning from jail

Khan’s supporters ran as independents because they were barred by the election commission on technical grounds from contesting the polls under his party’s electoral symbol. Despite the ban and Khan’s imprisonment for convictions on charges ranging from leaking state secrets to corruption, millions of the former cricketer’s supporters came out to vote for him, even though he cannot be part of any government while he remains in prison. One disadvantage the independents face in trying to form a government is that they, having not run as a party, are not eligible to be allocated any of parliament’s 70 reserved seats, which are distributed according to party strength in the final tally. Sharif’s party could get up to 20 of these seats.

A spokeswoman for Sharif’s party said that he had met with representatives of the minority regional Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party and they had agreed to “in principle work jointly in the larger interest of the country.” An MQM leader confirmed the meeting but said no formal coalition agreement had been made. The election commission previously flagged that results for two seats could not yet be included, one in which a candidate was killed, requiring the postponement of polling, and another in which polling would be completed later this month.

(With inputs from agencies)

Also Read: Pakistan announces final vote count without offering magic number of 169, what’s next in election deadlock?

 

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