Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto Join Hands, But Can They Form Pak Government?

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Nawaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto Join Hands, But Can They Form Pak Government?

Pakistan Election Results: This coalition, however, raises several questions about leadership.

New Delhi:

In the aftermath of the 2024 Pakistani elections, the two major political players, the Nawaz Sharif-led Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari-led Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have announced a coalition to collectively govern the nation. 

Despite securing the most seats as independent candidates, Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) falls short of a majority, prompting the PML-N and PPP to collaborate for a shot at forming the government. This coalition, however, raises several questions about leadership, the distribution of key roles, and the overall feasibility of their partnership.

Key Players And Positions

A press conference announcing the coalition on Tuesday featured prominent leaders, including Shehbaz Sharif from PML-N, Asif Ali Zardari from PPP, and representatives from other smaller parties. Shehbaz Sharif, the PML-N president, emerged as the potential candidate for prime minister, and he expressed a willingness to include Imran Khan’s PTI in the government for the betterment of the country.

The PPP’s decision to withdraw its chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, from the prime ministerial race signals a strategic move to throw support behind the PML-N. According to Dawn, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari acknowledged his party’s insufficient mandate to lead the government. The Bhutto-Zardari clan scion clarified that the PPP had rejected a coalition with the PTI and accepted the PML-N’s invitation, citing the PTI’s refusal to collaborate. 

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PML-N leader Marriyum Aurangzeb announced that Nawaz Sharif, 74, has nominated his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, 72, as the next Pakistan PM pick. 

“Nawaz Sharif has thanked the political parties which provided support to the PML-N (in forming the upcoming government) and expressed hope that through such decisions Pakistan will come out of crises,” she said in a statement. 

However, Imran Khan, currently in jail on corruption charges, ruled out cooperation, setting the stage for potential political tensions. The distribution of key positions within the coalition remained unclear, leaving room for negotiations and speculation.

Numbers

The coalition faces the challenge of forming a government with a minimum required number of 169 seats and potentially reaching two-thirds majority of 224 seats in the 336-member Pakistan National Assembly. 

The Election Commission of Pakistan has confirmed that the coalition led by Shehbaz Sharif, comprising PML-N, PPP, MQM-P, PML-Q, IPP, and BAP, has secured a total of 152 general seats in the recent elections. According to Dawn, with the addition of 60 women and 10 minority seats, the coalition is poised to surpass the minimum requirement of 169 seats needed to form a government. 

However, the crucial hurdle remains reaching the 224-seat mark for a two-thirds majority in the 336-member  Assembly.

The fate of reserved seats depends on the decisions of 101 independents, including 92 PTI-backed independents, who emerged victorious.

Internal Dynamics

The PML-N’s announcement of Shehbaz Sharif as the prime ministerial candidate initially suggested a preference for Nawaz Sharif to return to office. Later, it was clarified that Nawaz Sharif endorsed Shehbaz as the leader. Additionally, Maryam Nawaz, Nawaz Sharif’s daughter, was designated as the coalition’s candidate for the position of Punjab province chief minister.

Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of PPP, has advocated for inclusivity by suggesting talks with Imran Khan’s PTI. 

Challenges And Unanswered Questions

The joint press conference left several questions unanswered, creating uncertainty about the coalition’s stability and ability to form a functional government. The absence of details on the distribution of key roles and the process of government formation underscored the need for further negotiations among the coalition partners.

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Allegations of vote-rigging during the elections, with the nation’s mobile network being switched off on election day, added an element of controversy. Imran Khan announced plans to challenge the election results in the Supreme Court.

The success of this coalition in forming the next government hinges on effective negotiations, internal cohesion, and addressing the challenges posed by allegations of election irregularities. 

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