Pakistan: ‘Nawaz Sharif Still In Race For PM Post,’ PML-N Leaders Amid Talks With PPP

Top leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) have engaged in discussions regarding a new power-sharing arrangement following a split verdict in the recent elections, indicating efforts to form a coalition government gaining momentum. Despite independent candidates, largely supported by Imran Khan‘s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party, securing the most seats in Parliament, uncertainties loom over the composition of Pakistan’s next government.

None of the major parties—PML-N, PPP, or PTI—have clinched the necessary majority in the National Assembly, necessitating coalition formations.

According to news agency PTI’s report, the proposed power-sharing talks between PML-N and PPP involve a unique arrangement where a prime ministerial term would be divided between the two parties. “It has been proposed that a PML-N candidate will serve as prime minister for three years and PPP’s leader for two years,” a source familiar with the discussions revealed, as per the report.

The meeting, attended by key figures including PPP-Parliamentarian President Asif Ali Zardari, PPP Chairman Bilawal-Bhutto Zardari, and former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif from PML-N, indicated a mutual willingness to explore cooperative avenues for governance, the report stated.

This proposition mirrors a similar power-sharing agreement between PML-N and National Party (NP) in Balochistan in 2013, where two chief ministers from the respective parties held office for alternating halves of the five-year term.

‘Nawaz Sharif Still In Race For PM Post,’ PML-N Leaders Say

“PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif is still in contention for the prime ministerial slot,” affirmed PML-N Senator Irfan Saddique, as per news agency PTI.

“We are having discussion with Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP) over power-sharing formula in the upcoming coalition government in the Centre and Nawaz Sharif cannot be ruled out as the prime ministerial candidate,” PML-N Senator Irfan Saddique told a private news channel, the report stated.

He also stressed that Nawaz Sharif, 74, is the candidate for the prime minister slot from the PML-N.

Pakistan: 2 Parties Forfeit Seats Alleging Election Rigging

In a rare move, two major political parties in Pakistan, Jamaat-i-Islami and Grand Democratic Alliance, have announced the forfeiture of three provincial assembly seats in Sindh as a protest against alleged rigging in the February 8 elections, according to news agency PTI’s report. The claims, however, have been rejected by the country’s top election body, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP).

As per the report, Jamaat-i-Islami Party’s senior leader Hafiz Naeemur Rehman, who won a seat in the Sindh province in Thursday’s elections, decided to forfeit his victory. Rehman stated that it was not him but the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party-backed candidate who won from the constituency he contested. Rehman won from the PS-129 constituency (Karachi Central VIII) with 26,296 votes according to provisional results released by the ECP.

Addressing a press conference, Rehman emphasized, “A PTI-backed independent candidate has won and I will not avail this seat.” He highlighted alleged discrepancies in vote counts, stating, “When I estimated that there was a difference of a few hundred votes, I asked my team for each and every Form [45]. When we checked, we found out that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had shown fewer votes for us but as I did not succeed, I forfeit this seat.”

Rehman further claimed that according to his team’s calculations, PTI-backed independent candidate Saif Bari had won, asserting, “Therefore, according to my conscience and the moral traditions of my party, I vacate my provincial assembly seat and demand that all seats we won be returned to us”, the report stated

In a related development, Grand Democratic Alliance chief Pir Sibghatullah Shah Rashidi announced at a press conference in Karachi that his party would vacate two Sindh Assembly seats due to concerns over result manipulation. “We will not take any charity seats,” he declared, criticizing the alleged rigging and rejecting the election outcome.

Pakistan: Protests In Sindh Against Alleged Poll Rigging 

The actions by these parties followed two days of protests, some turning violent, across several parts of Sindh province over alleged rigging in the polls. Since the General Elections on February 8, multiple parties including PTI, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) party, Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TL), and Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) have contested the results, claiming their candidates were deprived of victory in many constituencies.

The PTI, JI, TL, and JUI have been leading the protests, with workers of these parties blocking highways leading into the city. Police and rangers intervened to clear the roads as traffic was disrupted. In some instances, protesters attempted to march towards the ECP’s provincial office in the Saddar area, prompting police to use tear gas shells, water cannons, and batons to disperse the crowds.

The Election Commission of Pakistan has refuted systematic allegations of rigging during the February 8 general elections, acknowledging only isolated irregularities and asserting that relevant forms were available for investigation.

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