Last update: February 11, 2024, 14:01 IST
Pakistan’s former prime minister Nawaz Sharif speaks, flanked by his daughter and politician Maryam and brother and former prime minister Shahbaz, at the PML-N party office in Model Town in Lahore on February 9. (Reuters)
The political scene in Pakistan intensifies as the PTI vies for power amid a crackdown and military tensions. Nawaz Sharif’s call for change adds fuel to the fire
Politics in Pakistan are heating up as jailed Imran Khan’s PTI asserts its right to form a government in the country amid rising tensions with the powerful military, which faces accusations of manipulation of the mandate in the February 8 elections.
The PTI’s candidacy comes amid a crackdown on its website and growing fears of a possible street revolt. Top sources said CNN-News18 that their efforts have been hampered as their Google Drive and website are reportedly blocked. This follows a call by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to form a coalition government in his so-called victory speech in Lahore. The PTI-linked candidates are demanding that President Arif Alvi, appointed by Imran Khan, invite them to form the government while protesting against the interim government and the army.
Independents who lost in the elections are instructed to file first information reports (FIRs) against returning officers (ROs) who allegedly provided them with incorrect forms. At the same time, negotiations are also underway between the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). Asif Ali Zardari of the PPP is reportedly willing to form a government without Nawaz, advocating that his younger brother Shehbaz be the leader, but on the condition that he himself becomes president.
Sources close to the PML-N revealed that Nawaz Sharif is reluctant to become Prime Minister again in the current circumstances. The establishment favors a government led by Shehbaz Sharif, supported by Zardari, to manage economic programs and alleviate debt in the country. The Pakistani military believes Shehbaz would be an effective chief executive to meet the government’s expectations. Nawaz has deputed Shehbaz to enter into talks with other political parties, including the PPP, to explore the possibilities of forming a government.
The three-time former prime minister has expressed his willingness to work with all parties for government formation, including Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam’s Fazlur Rehman. He stressed the importance of stability and urged all parties to unite to improve the debt-ridden country. His message is also reflected in the army chief’s statement, which called on feuding politicians to show “maturity and unity” after an election failed to produce a clear winner.
The Pakistani military, accused of backing Nawaz, looms large in the country’s political landscape, where generals have ruled the country for almost half of its history. “Elections are not a zero-sum, win-lose competition, but an exercise in determining the mandate of the people,” Army Chief Gen. Syed Asim Munir said in a statement released Saturday.