Home Politics Pakistan’s ‘old guards’ set to form new coalition government amid hung parliament

Pakistan’s ‘old guards’ set to form new coalition government amid hung parliament

Pakistan’s ‘old guards’ set to form new coalition government amid hung parliament

Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz amasses support from same coalition partners in government for 16 months, from April 2022 to Aug. 2023, and some independent MPs to form new government

Aamir Latif 

KARACHI, Sindh Pakistan

A coalition led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is set to form the new government for a five-year term after amassing support of newly-elected lawmakers it required for a simple majority in the lower house of parliament, or National Assembly.

The crucial Feb. 8 elections resulted in a hung parliament, with no party securing two/thirds seats to form the government with a simple majority, triggering an intense race to stitch coalitions.

According to the latest tally announced by the Election Commission of Pakistan, the PML-N-led coalition, which also includes the center-left Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), and several smaller parties, has a combined strength of over 150 out of 266 direct seats in the National Assembly.

Ahsan Iqbal, a central PML-N party leader, has also claimed that the coalition has surpassed the number required for a majority in parliament.

Speaking to Anadolu, he asserted that the total seats won by the coalition partners are “close to two-thirds majority.”

The coalition has also named former Prime Minister and PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif as its candidate for the coveted post for a second term.

The junior Sharif remained prime minister of a coalition government with almost the same parties for 16 months, from April 2022 to Aug. 2023, following the ouster of Imran Khan through a no-trust vote.

To form a government with a simple majority, a party requires 134 direct seats, which can be counted as 169 MPs after allocating members to reserved seats for women and religious minorities in the National Assembly.

The PML-N, PPP, and MQM got 75, 54, and 17 seats, respectively, in last week’s elections. Six independent lawmakers have also joined the PML-N, increasing its strength to 81.

Although independent candidates backed by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) won 93 seats, the highest number of MPs, the party could not form a coalition with other parties to reach a simple majority.

The National Assembly has 336 seats, 60 reserved for women and 10 for religious minorities.

These are proportionately distributed among parties based on their electoral performance. Any party that wants its leader to be prime minister will need 169 votes in the House.

Also read: Smaller parties take center stage as Pakistan waits for next government

Merger plans get setback

Earlier on Tuesday, the PTI announced that its affiliated independent candidates will “form a coalition” governments with the two religiopolitical parties, the Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) in the center and eastern Punjab province, and the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

However, its plans suffered a setback on Wednesday when the JI refused to join hands with the PTI, accusing it of “changing its stance.”

JI’s deputy chief Liaquat Baloch said at a press conference in the northeastern city of Lahore that the two parties had agreed to cooperate on a federal level in the “national interest,” but later it announced that it would form a coalition with his party only in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

“They can settle their affairs in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with whoever they wish… the JI would be glad,” he remarked.

Mohammad Ali Saif, the PTI spokesman for the province, told reporters that his party was unable to reach an agreement with the JI because the latter does not have representation in the provincial assembly.

The PTI-backed candidates are in a comfortable position to form the government in the province, where the JI lost all its three seats after “recounting” within a couple of days.

Saif said his party is weighing “other options” to form the provincial government.

PTI candidates ran in the Feb. 8 elections as independent candidates following the country’s top court ruling, which removed the party symbol from the ballot paper for failing to hold an intra-party election on time.

This also prevented the PTI from benefiting from the 70 seats reserved for women and minorities.​​​​​​​


Aamir Latif is a Karachi-based senior journalist. He represents Anadolu, a Turkish news agency.
Courtesy: Anadolu Agency (Posted on 14.02.2024) 



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