Thursday, February 22, 2024

Party leaders continue negotiations to form coalition government in Islamabad

Mr Sharif’s party had initiated coalition talks with former President Asif Ali Zardari and some other small ethnic and Islamic groups on Friday.

• February 12, 2024
Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan
Asif Ali Zardari, Nawaz Sharif and Imran Khan

Pakistani leaders set to converge on Islamabad to resume difficult negotiations to form a coalition government after no clear winners emerged from last week’s disputed elections.

“No party can form the government on its own,” said Azam Tarar, former Premier Nawaz Sharif’s aide.

Mr Sharif’s party had initiated coalition talks with former President Asif Ali Zardari and some other small ethnic and Islamic groups on Friday.

The candidates backed by former premier Imran Khan, now jailed, had won 101 out of 265 seats contested directly for the national legislature, according to the election panel.

Mr Sharif’s party was trailing behind with 75 seats while Mr Zardari, the widower of former slain premier Benazir Bhutto, won another 54 constituencies.

While Mr Khan’s loyalists contested as independent candidates after a court ruling disbanded his party, there is no legal bar on them to join another party.

There were fears that they would defect.

“We are struggling to keep them under control,” a Khan aide told dpa, wishing not to be named.

Messrs Sharif, Zardari, and the leaders of all other parties would continue their talks in Islamabad after negotiations took place in the eastern city of Lahore on the weekend, Mr Tarar said.

“We are very, very close to reaching a power-sharing formula. This week is crucial,” a Sharif’s aide said, requesting anonymity.

They have until February to form a coalition, according to the rules.

The elections in coup-prone nuclear power Pakistan were marred by rigging allegations, suspected meddling of the powerful military, and sporadic violence in the run-up to the polls.


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