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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 May 2024

Shehbaz Sharif likely to become next Pak PM as coalition led by him set to cross simple majority mark

PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb has said that party supremo Nawaz Sharif has nominated the party president and his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, 72, for the post of the country’s prime minister

PTI Islamabad Published 14.02.24, 12:51 PM
Shehbaz Sharif

Shehbaz Sharif File

Shehbaz Sharif, the younger brother of former premier Nawaz Sharif, is expected to become Pakistan's new prime minister as the coalition of leading political parties led by them is set to comfortably cross the simple majority mark to form the next government after elections produced a split mandate. In a surprise move, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) on Tuesday night nominated Shehbaz as the prime ministerial candidate instead of the party supremo and three-time former premier Nawaz Sharif.

Earlier, Shehbaz along with Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan Peoples Party, Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan (MQM-P) met at the residence of Shujaat Hussain of Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) for a consultative meeting and agreed on government formation.

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“Today we have united to tell the nation that we all accept the split mandate. I am thankful to Zardari and Bilawal (Bhutto) that they decided for their party to vote for the PML-N,” he said.

PML-N Information Secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb has said that party supremo Nawaz Sharif has nominated the party president and his younger brother Shehbaz Sharif, 72, for the post of the country’s prime minister.

She added that PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz was nominated for the post of Punjab’s chief minister.

"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.

Shehbaz, 72, who was prime minister after the Imran Khan-led government was ousted in April 2022, said the other parties that joined hands with the PML-N enjoyed “almost 2/3 majority” of the Parliament after the elections. He also said that the new government would pull the country out of trouble.

According to the Election Commission of Pakistan’s tally, the total number of general seats won by the six parties -- the PML-N, PPP, MQM-P, PML-Q, IPP (Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party) and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) which announced their plans to form a coalition led by Shehbaz -- comes to 152.

This clearly shows that these parties will easily achieve the minimum required number of 169 to form the government at the Centre after the addition of 60 women and 10 minority seats in their tally.

However, it is yet to be seen if these parties will be able to get to the next magic number of 224, which is required to obtain the elusive two-thirds majority in a 336-member National Assembly (NA).

“Now our war is against the country’s challenges. The first challenge is the economy. We have to stabilise it which is a tall task. Nations move forward when their leadership unites and decides to end conflicts and take the nation forward to eliminate problems,” he said.

The PML-N reportedly enjoys the backing of the powerful Pakistan Army.

Reacting to the latest political developments, jailed former prime minister Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said that the best option for the PML-N is to “accept [its] defeat gracefully” and let their party founder Imran Khan “fix and heal the country”.

Independent candidates backed by the PTI won the most seats in Parliament.

PTI Chairman Barrister Gohar Ali Khan said on Tuesday that his party had won 180 seats across the country, and the name of the party’s prime ministerial candidate would be announced by Thursday.

During a conversation with the media, after meeting with the party’s founding chairman and former premier Khan in Adiala Jail, along with other PTI leaders, he said that they had secured all three NA seats in Islamabad and an additional four seats in Balochistan.

Zardari speaking alongside Shehbaz said that a coalition government would be set up.

“We have decided to form a coalition government and pull the country out of the economic crisis,” he said and added that the new government would also try to reconcile with everyone including the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party of Imran Khan.

He promised to deliver the country out of these troubles and lead on to the road to prosperity.

With the key parties getting together to form the new government, the transition from the election to the new government is likely to take place as per law by the end of this month.

PPP chairman Bilawal addressing a press conference after the meeting of its high-powered Central Executive Committee (CEC), which was held under his leadership, said his party failed to get a mandate to form a government in the federation.

“Due to this, I will not be putting myself forward for the candidacy of the prime minister of Pakistan,” he said, but added that the PTI had refused to form a coalition with the PPP which left the PML-N as the only party that had invited the PPP to join the government.

He said the PPP decided to form a committee to engage with other political parties for the formation of government and political stability.

“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 perpetuate the crisis in the country,” he said.

“The PPP has decided that we ran this election on a manifesto based on issues of public importance […] we want to restore political stability and want to end this environment of political toxicity.

“To that end, the PPP will be willing to support the case of important votes - a candidate of the PM of Pakistan - and issue to issue basis to ensure that the government is formed and political stability is restored,” Bilawal said.

To a question, he said that his father and former president Asif Ali Zardari would be the candidate to become president as he was capable of getting the country out of the current problems.

To another question, he said that his experience with the PML-N in the previous government was not good and his party leaders in the meeting raised concerns that their issues were not addressed by the PML-N during the tenure of the coalition government.

Ruling out fresh elections due to the split mandate, he also declared that the parliament would be formed after the current elections and “we will not let the people down”.

Meanwhile, Khan-led PTI decided to use the platform of two right-wing religious parties in its bid to form its federal government and in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.

PTI information secretary Raouf Hassan announced while addressing a press conference.

“PTI has decided to join Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) to form the government in the centre and in Punjab and Jamaati-e-Islami (JI) in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa,” he said, adding that the party was redoubling efforts to make government in the centre and Punjab.

It is believed that by even joining the two parties, the PTI would not get enough strength to form the federal government or provincial government in Punjab.

By joining the two parties, the PTI would be able to claim a share of the 70 reserved seats in the National Assembly and 156 reserved seats in the four provincial assemblies. The reserved seats are allotted to the parties on the basis of proportional representation.

The PTI-backed independent candidates were required to join a political party within three days of official notification of the election results by the Election Commission of Pakistan, which has not been issued so far.

However, the choice of the two parties by the PTI may invite scrutiny by his opponents as MWM is a Shiite party led by Allama Raja Nasir Abbas and it succeeded in getting only one seat in the National Assembly but failed to get any seat in the four provinces.

On the other hand, the JI is one of the oldest hardline religious parties which supported the struggle in Kashmir and opposed the US forces in Afghanistan through rallies and protests. It failed to get any National Assembly seat but won six provincial seats, including three in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, two seats in Sindh and one in Balochistan, according to the data of the ECP.

The overnight developments showed that the country was on the way to getting an elected government in office within weeks after the February 8 polarised elections.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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