Pakistan is currently facing a difficult government formation after the parliamentary elections. The Tehreek-e-Insaf, the opposition party of jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan, has declared itself the winner of the elections. However, the Pakistan Muslim League, which was led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, also claimed victory earlier.
At a press conference in Islamabad on Saturday, PTI chairman Gohar Khan stated that they have a majority and want to form the next government. He again accused the ruling party of electoral fraud and urged the country’s institutions to respect the will of the voter.
Two days after the elections, Sharif’s PML-N failed to secure a majority with their party and would have to make do with only 71 seats in parliament with 95 percent of the constituencies counted. However, independent candidates who are believed to have ties with Imran Khan and his PTI won 100 out of 266 seats.
Despite this setback, Sharif’s PML-N started coalition talks with third-placed popular party PPP led by Bilawal Bhutto Zardar with a view to forming a government. It is possible that Sharif will try to court possible defectors among independent candidates or form an alliance with a small party in order to find a majority.
Pakistan’s elections were overshadowed by violence and a suspension of mobile and internet services. Activists claim that these actions prevented some people from casting their votes. The country is currently in a deep economic crisis with massive inflation. Since its founding more than 75 years ago, Pakistan has experienced repeated unrest and instability which lies between India and Afghanistan. The military has ruled for over half of that time even under civilian governments; it was seen as having significant influence over political leadership decisions.
In light of this situation, Pakistani army chief Asim Munir urged political leaders to put aside their own interests for the sake of serving their people’s needs. He stated that it is crucial for Pakistan ends up “in safe hands” that have “a healing power to break the policy of anarchy and polarization.”