Pakistan’s two main family-controlled political parties have hit a roadblock in their talks to form a new government as they cannot agree on who would become prime minister in their coalition designed to thwart jailed former leader Imran. Khan.
The Sharif and Bhutto clans want their candidates to take the top job, local media reported on Monday. Sherry Rehman, a senior leader of Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party, said she will form committees to “negotiate with other political parties.”
The development suggests it could take weeks for a government to be formed. The previous day, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shehbaz Sharif said on X that the clans had “agreed in principle to save the country from political instability.”
The Sharifs and Bhutto have been negotiating to form a government after Imran Khan’s candidates, running as independents, defied the odds by winning the most seats in the election but fell short of an outright majority. Bhutto Zardari’s PPP held two meetings with three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N over the weekend.
Details of the discussions were not made public, but local media reported that PML-N wants Nawaz or his brother, Shehbaz, to lead the government. The PPP, which came third in the vote, would like Bhutto Zardari, 35, son of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, to be prime minister, saying he would be a new face in a country where more than 60% of the population It’s under 30.
Any coalition between the parties would frustrate Khan’s candidates, whose strong showing highlighted the former cricket star’s enduring popularity and voters’ disillusionment with the status quo in Pakistani politics, represented by the Sharif and Bhutto parties and the powerful army. Khan’s party has alleged voter fraud in the election and there have been scattered protests across the country.
For investors, any delay in forming a government would create further uncertainty in an economy that faces challenges on several fronts. Inflation is running at 28%, the fastest pace in Asia, making it difficult for people to make ends meet. A nine-month bailout program with the International Monetary Fund, Pakistan’s 23rd since independence in 1947, expires in March, suggesting any new leader will have to negotiate a new deal.
Pakistan’s benchmark stock index fell 2.8% on Monday after falling 1.8% on Friday.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated channel.)