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Pakistan election results: What happens if no party can form government?

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Although independent candidates backed by Imran Khan Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) were leading the race, his “symbolless” party will not be able to form the new government independently.

So what happens if no party manages to form a government in Pakistan?

In that case, Pakistan’s military, the country’s most powerful and organized force, could intervene to restore order and seize power as it has done three times before in the country’s 76-year history, Reuters reported.

The last time the country was governed by the army was in 1999, when the then army chief, General Pervaiz Musharraf, overthrew Sharif’s government. Pakistan has spent several decades under military rule (1958–1971, 1977–1988, 1999–2008).

For the moment, the current head of the army has already asked political parties to demonstrate “maturity and unity.”

READ ALSO: EVM vs. ballot: Are Pakistan’s delayed and ‘rigged’ results a lesson for India?

Who is in line to form a new government in Pakistan? 3 possible scenarios

1. Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif reach agreement for coalition government

Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N party, which reportedly won 74 seats, could strike a deal with Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), which won 53 seats. They, along with other parties such as MQM-P, PML-Q and IPP, can muster a majority in Parliament.

However, the situation does not look easy for this potential coalition as the PPP has reportedly put forward a condition to Nawaz Sharif’s party to form a coalition government.

According to Geo TV, the condition on which the PPP agreed to form a coalition government with the PML-N was that Bilawal be appointed prime minister. Meanwhile, the MQM-P denied holding coalition talks during a meeting with the PML-N delegation in Karachi.

The PML-N and PPP were in government together for 16 months until August, with Bhutto Zardari as foreign minister and Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shehbaz as prime minister.

READ ALSO: Elections in Pakistan: a look at the challenges that await the new government

2. Bhutto Zardari heads the coalition government

While Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan’s candidates won the most seats, no party can form the government without the PPP. While both seek to keep the other out of power, the PPP reaches an agreement to appoint the young Bhutto Zardari as prime minister.

3. Imran Khan’s independents come to power

Independent candidates cannot announce their candidate for prime minister or form a government. They have to follow procedures to do so.

Independent candidates backed by Imran Khan’s party, which won 93 seats, can join a smaller party in Parliament to form a single bloc and meet the requirement of being allocated reserved seats. This would help them form a majority and allow them to field a candidate for prime minister.

They can also strike a deal with other parties to support a consensus candidate, which also means Khan’s supporters are in power and can push for their jailed leader to be released under a deal. Imran Khan himself is not eligible to become prime minister. The party will have to push hard to get its allies to align with Khan’s policies.

Meanwhile, Waseem Qadir, the PTI-backed candidate who won from Lahore’s NA-121 constituency, has already joined Nawaz Sharif’s PML-N. According to Pakistan’s electoral rule cited by Dawn, independent candidates will have three days after notification of their victory to join a party.

PTI leaders contested the election as independent candidates after Pakistan’s Supreme Court and the Election Commission said they could not use the party’s symbol – a cricket bat.

(With contributions from Reuters)

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Posted: Feb 11, 2024, 08:37 pm IST

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