The elections, which took place on Thursday, saw a delay in the announcement of results, leading to accusations of foul play and protests from several parties.
Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has received the support of the Pakistan Army for his call for a unity government to address the country’s challenges.
The Election Commission of Pakistan has announced the results for most of the contested seats, with one seat withheld due to complaints of fraud.
Independent candidates, largely backed by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), secured the most seats in the National Assembly with 101. The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), led by Sharif, won 75 seats, making it the largest party in Parliament.
The Pakistan Peoples Party and the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) secured 54 and 17 seats respectively, while smaller parties won the remaining 12 seats.
To form a government, a party must win 133 seats in the National Assembly. Overall, a simple majority of 169 seats out of the total 336 seats is required, including reserved slots for women and minorities.
The PML-N is leading the push to form a coalition government, similar to the one established after Imran Khan’s removal as prime minister in April 2022. Sharif has assigned his younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, to hold talks with senior leaders from the Pakistan Peoples Party and the MQM-P.
The MQM-P, which prefers an alliance with the PML-N due to their non-competition in Karachi, is expected to play a significant role in the formation of the government.
The new coalition, dubbed PDM-2.0, is modelled after the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition that governed after Khan’s removal.
While Imran Khan’s PTI claims it will form the government, analysts believe it is unlikely without forming an alliance with major parties like the PML-N or the PPP.
The PTI-affiliated independent candidates have the option to rejoin the PTI during the three-day post-election period, but it would require the party to regain its symbol through intra-party elections. The PPP’s Asif Ali Zardari is expected to hold important meetings to discuss the proposed alliance, with rumours of the president’s office being offered as a political incentive.
As the results of the provincial assemblies of Punjab, Sindh, and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa are finalised, protests have erupted in various cities against result delays and alleged rigging. Activists from the PTI are leading the protests, but no violent incidents have been reported so far.
(With agencies inputs)