Two of Pakistan’s major political parties - the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) - say they will form a coalition government after last week’s inconclusive elections.
The move means the party of former Prime Minister Imran Khan will not be in power, despite independent candidates affiliated with it gaining the most votes.
At a press conference in Lahore Tuesday, former Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif from the PMLN and former President Asif Ali Zardari from the PPP, along with representatives from four other parties, announced they would be forming a government together.
The PMLN also released a statement that Shahbaz Sharif would be the party’s candidate for prime minister. Earlier on Tuesday, the PPP’s chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari had said his party would support the PLMN candidate for prime minister.
The PPP won 54 seats in last Thursday’s election, coming third behind independent candidates - most of whom were associated with former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which won 102 seats, and the PMLN, headed by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, which won 73 seats, according to the country’s election commission.
None of the three major parties won enough seats to have a majority in parliament and, therefore were unable to form a government on their own.
Khan, who is currently in jail and was barred from running in the election, announced separately on Tuesday that the independent candidates associated with his party would join the lesser-known Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen party (MWM), which won only one seat in parliament
Khan also ruled out the possibility of creating a coalition with the PPP or the PMLN.
Khan’s PTI party made claims of wide-scale rigging in the election and also released a statement from Khan saying: “I warn against the misadventure of forming a government with stolen votes. Such daylight robbery will not only be a disrespect to the citizens but will also push the country’s economy further into a downward spiral.”
Speaking at Tuesday’s press conference, Asif Ali Zardari explained how the coalition was formed.
“Looking at everything, we have thought and decided to sit together. We have contested elections against each other but despite that, it is not necessary that [we fight] forever,” Zardari said.
Sharif took a conciliatory tone saying, “Let’s move forward by eliminating mutual differences for the sake of the nation.”
Bhutto Zardari had also said that the PPP would form a committee to deliberate on the party’s vote on important issues such as the national budget, the prime minister’s election, and important legislation.
The party would also field its candidates for the National Assembly speaker, chairman of the Senate, and president, he said.
Under Pakistani law, parliament must convene within 21 days after an election has taken place so lawmakers can be sworn in and then elect a new prime minister.
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