Independents lead in Pakistan elections and Nawaz Sharif calls for coalition government

Preliminary and unofficial results of the general elections in Pakistan showed that independent candidates won the largest number of parliamentary seats, while the Muslim League party led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came second, calling for the formation of a coalition government.

Loyalists of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is currently in jail, are still leading in the results of the legislative elections with most of the vote counting process completed, but the two largest parties that dominate the political arena, namely Nawaz, But limited progress has been made. Sharif's party and the People's Party led by Bilawal Bhutto, the former prime minister's son, assassinated Benazir Bhutto.

Even if these results are confirmed, it does not mean that the Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf will be able to form a government.

If the three factions fail to get an absolute majority, the winner will have to form a coalition, which means all options will remain open regarding the formation of this coalition. The Muslim League led by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is in the best position to do this.

Today i.e. on Friday, Nawaz Sharif announced his victory in the general elections and said that his party has got the maximum votes and he will discuss the issue of forming a coalition government.

“We do not have the majority to form the government alone, so we call on other parties and winning candidates to work with us,” Sharif said from his party's headquarters in Lahore.

Sharif did not disclose the number of seats won by his party and counting of votes is still underway for the last few of the 265 seats contested in the election.

Counting of votes is still going on in Thursday's election (Anatolia)

In his first public speech in the city of Lahore (northeast) after Thursday's decisive elections, Sharif – who served three terms – said the only solution to the growing political and economic crisis in the country is for all. Political parties should unite and form a unity government.

Sharif stressed that his country could no longer tolerate a policy of confrontation. “We are in no mood to fight with anyone and that is why I propose all parties to come together and take the country out of the dilemmas it faces,” he said.

He said he has instructed his brother, Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Shehbaz Sharif) president, to contact various parties, including the Pakistan Peoples Party, representing the centre-left, in this regard from Friday.

Sharif returned to Pakistan last October after four years in exile in London. Observers say they have the support of the army.

Volunteers of former Prime Minister Imran Khan's party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) watch results on TV screens after the end of voting during the general election at the party's head office in Islamabad, Pakistan on February 8, 2024.  Reuters/Charlotte Greenfield
Most of the independent candidates who won the election are linked to Imran Khan's party, which was banned from contesting the election (Reuters)

associated with imran khan

Although Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was barred from participating in the election, the latest official results showed that independent candidates won 92 seats, the majority belonging to Khan's party, while Sharif The party got 63 seats.

The Election Commission said that Pakistan People's Party won 50 seats. These results include 225 out of 266 districts.

The slow counting process raises suspicions of possible manipulation of the results which is not in the interest of Imran Khan's party.

The Election Commission cited “internet problems” to justify the slow process. Doubts over the credibility of the election grew as authorities shut down communications and mobile internet services throughout the day of voting.

On Friday, Britain expressed “deep concern” about the electoral process in Pakistan, and urged authorities to “respect basic human rights”.

Most of the seats won by candidates supported by Khan's party are in his stronghold Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where two of his supporters were killed and 24 injured in clashes on Friday evening.

Protests were also recorded in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and Quetta in Balochistan province.

The election campaign included a boycott of Imran Khan over allegations of “pre-poll fraud”. Khan was sentenced to three long prison terms and his party suffered repression.

On Thursday, elections were held in Pakistan to select 266 representatives from 5,121 candidates and 593 representatives to regional parliaments from 12,695 candidates.

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