The names of former three-time PM Nawaz Sharif (74), his brother, ex-PM Shehbaz Sharif (72), and former foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (35) have so far surfaced. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf followers, however, want to see their jailed party chief, Imran Khan, back in office, a wish that may not get fulfilled in the given situation.
PTI-backed Independent candidates have so far won 93 National Assembly seats, the highest by any party, but it fallsshort of the 169-seat simple majority needed to form a federal govt. With 75 seats, the Nawaz Sharif-led PML-N finished second, despite having strong support from the powerful military establishment. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), led by ex-foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, came in third with 54 seats. Another important stakeholder is Karachi-based Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) with 17 seats. Remaining lawmakers are from smaller parties with one or two votes.
To form a govt at the centre, one likely scenario can be that PML-N allies with PPP and some smaller parties. The two parties have a working relationship since they jointly governed the country for 18 months after ousting Imran Khan’s govt in April 2022. To win the PM’s slot, PML-N, reports suggest, has offered the slots of president, NA speaker and Senate chairman to PPP. PPP seems to be taking its time while considering its options, besides demanding the job of PM for Bilawal.
With the existing number of seats, PTI can only form govt by allying with either PML-N or PPP, but this seems unlikely. PPP has said that its doors for consultations are open to all. Imran’s media adviser, Zulfi Bukhari, has said it is quite likely that PTI will sit in opposition instead of forming a coalition if it fails to muster a majority. Unsuccessful PTI candidates have filled the courts with claims of vote-rigging. PTI backers have also held demonstrations outside election commission offices across the nation.
The National Assembly must be called by the president within three weeks of polls. Becoming PM requires a simple majority – 169 of the 336 seats.