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Pakistan government deal agreed despite opposition from Imran Khan’s PTI | Elections News

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Pakistan People’s Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to form a coalition with Shehbaz Sharif selected as candidate for PM.

Two of Pakistan’s leading political parties have reached a formal agreement to form a coalition government, they say, days after inconclusive national elections did not return a clear majority.

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMLN) now have the “required numbers” to form a government, PMLN President and former Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday.

Sitting beside Sharif at a news conference in Islamabad, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, former foreign minister and chairperson of the PPP, confirmed that Sharif would be their coalition’s candidate for prime minister.

He added that his father, Asif Ali Zardari, would be the alliance’s candidate for president.

Sharif, who is the younger brother of another former prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, said the PMLN-PPP coalition also had the support of other smaller parties.

The announcement comes after 10 days of intense negotiations following the February 8 elections, which resulted in a hung National Assembly when no party secured the 134 seats needed for a simple majority and to form government on its own.

Independent candidates aligned with another leading political party – jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) – won the most seats at 93 but did not have the numbers or a political party or coalition that would enable them to govern.

PTI-aligned candidates were forced to run as independents in the face of state restrictions against the party.

The PMLN is the largest party with 79 seats, and the PPP is second with 54. They along with four other smaller parties have a comfortable majority in the legislature of 264 seats.

Vote rigging

In response to the announcement by the two parties, the PTI, which had also been trying to form coalitions with smaller parties, branded their rivals “mandate thieves” in a post on the social media platform X.

The PTI has alleged there was widespread vote rigging in the elections, a claim that was seemingly backed up when a senior bureaucrat on Saturday admitted to his involvement in changing election results.

The PTI faced a severe crackdown from government agencies and security forces in the weeks before the elections.

In January, the party was even denied the use of its election symbol, the cricket bat, which resulted in its candidates running as independents instead of as members of the party itself.

Meanwhile, the social media platform X has been disrupted across Pakistan since Saturday when the vote manipulation admission was made public and people went out into the streets to protest.

“X has been inaccessible in Pakistan [since Saturday] because it is used by the public to protest,” Usama Khilji, a digital rights activist told the Agence France-Presse news agency. However, Pakistan’s government has not acknowledged the outage.

The delay in forming a government in Pakistan – a nuclear-armed nation of 241 million people – has caused concern as the country grapples with an economic crisis amid slow growth and record inflation and rising violence by armed groups. It needs a stable administration with the authority to take tough decisions.

Bhutto Zardari said on Tuesday that the PPP and PMLN would push to form a government as soon as possible.

According to the country’s constitution, a session of parliament has to be called by February 29, after which a vote for a new prime minister will take place.

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