Pakistan elections: In a surprising development, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PMl_N) supremo Nawaz Sharif nominated his younger brother Shehbaz for the post of next Prime Minister, despite the latter earlier saying the elder Sharif will become the next premier, according to PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb.
Additionally, the former PM nominated his daughter Maryam Nawaz for the post of Punjab provincial Chief Minister, who will become the first woman to serve in the post if elected. This nomination was also announced by Shehbaz earlier today, when he requested his brother to accept the Prime Minister’s post. Aurangzeb said Nawaz felt he could best support Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister and Maryam Nawaz as Punjab chief minister by helping them from behind and looking at party affairs.
This came as all main parties, barring former PM Imran Khan’s party, announced that they would try to form a coalition government led by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, ending speculation about the future form of the political set-up. Earlier today, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif affirmed that his elder brother Nawaz will become the Prime Minister for a record fourth time.
“I had said that Nawaz Sharif would become prime minister for the fourth time. And I maintain today that he is going to be the PM for the fourth time,” he said. Shehbaz along with Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui of Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) met at the residence of Shujaat Hussain of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) after a consultative meeting.
According to a PML-N source, a deadlock may have arisen between the PML-N and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on two possible fronts — firstly if the PPP wants the PM slot for Bilawal, and secondly, if they disagree on Nawaz’s name for premier”. In case Nawaz is not picked for the premiership then his daughter Maryam Nawaz will be the favourite for the Punjab minister’s office.
Bilawal Bhutto withdraws from candidature
This came after Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari withdrew his name from the PM’s post and said his party would support the PML-N candidate but would not become a part of the next government nor would it accept any federal ministries. The PPP has decided that we are unable or not in a position to join the federal government ourselves, nor are we interested in taking ministries in such a setup. We also don’t want to see political chaos in the country. We don’t want to perpetual crisis in the country,” he said.
Shehbaz later said that his party accepted the split mandate and thanked Zardari and Bilawal for their support to PML-N. He requested his brother Nawaz Sharif to accept the office of the prime minister and announced that Nawaz’s daughter Maryam Nawaz would be the chief ministerial candidate for the Punjab province.
Meanwhile, jailed Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said it will join hands with Majlis Wahdat-i-Muslimeen (MWM) to form the government in the Centre and Punjab, and with the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where it won 84 seats in total. Although both Imran and Nawaz Sharif claimed victory in the elections, PTI-backed candidates won the highest number of seats, with 93 out of a total of 264 seats for which results were declared. Nawaz’s PML-N was the largest party with 75 seats and the PPP won 54. Since then, seven independent candidates have joined the PML-N.
A coalition seemed inevitable even as the PML-N has already snared some of the independents as no parties have won the majority. Former Pakistan President and PPP co-chair Asif Ali Zardari said that he and other political leaders gathered with him have decided to form the government together, adding that PTI was part of the process, Dawn reported.
Imran Khan warns against ‘misadventure’ of forming govt with ‘stolen votes’
Incarcerated former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday warned his political rivals against pursuing any “misadventure” of forming a government with “stolen votes” as deliberations over the premier continued. In a statement issued from prison, Imran expressed his gratitude to the Pakistani public with a resounding victory and said “the families voting together, including women and children—truly exemplified the essence of democracy”.
“As the people of Pakistan have clearly pronounced their verdict, there is a dire need for democracy and fairness in Pakistan’s elections. I warn against the misadventure of forming a government with stolen votes. Such daylight robbery will not only be a disrespect to the citizens, but will also push the country’s economy further into a downward spiral,” he added.
Imran asserted that PTI will “never compromise on people’s will”, after instructing his party against engaging in talks with PML-N, PPP and Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) as they have “robbed” people’s mandate.
Challenges of a coalition government
Political analysts say the next 48 hours will be crucial because if there is a coalition government formed by the PPP and PML-N it will not last for long. The PML-N has already snared some of the independents who won PTI seats but its total tally of 78 seats in the parliament is not enough to form a government, something it can’t do without forming a coalition government.
Analysts say a coalition government will struggle to tackle multiple challenges – the foremost being seeking a new bailout programme from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after the current arrangement expires in three weeks. A coalition government “would probably be unstable, weak” and “the big loser … will be the army”, said Marvin Weinbaum, Director of Afghanistan and Pakistan Studies at the Middle East Institute in Washington.
Meanwhile, Bilawal said he wants his father Asif Ali Zardari to become the president again. The current Pakistan President Dr Arif Alvi is scheduled to relinquish his post next month. “I am not saying this because he is my father, I am saying this because the country is in a huge crisis at the moment and if anyone can douse this fire, it is Asif Ali Zardari,” Bilawal asserted.
(with inputs from PTI)